From the very first images of WAVE, we recognize Sylvain Émard’s touch.
Bodies are lit from the back with moving spotlights, casting shadows that appear over transparent but blurry screens. The swiftly shifting lights create a non-human body, a being that can move far quicker than any human possibly could, not to mention one that can change shape before our eyes. Already we are subjected to visuals that remind us of his previous work, Temps de chien. When the dancers emerge from behind the screens, their bodies become the background for video projections, usually of shimmering water. This is sometimes alternated with video static, which we come to realize looks highly similar to water, as if it were nature’s entering the digital era.
The movement first exhibited by the dancers will become a recurring motif: highly circular, with lots of pivots, and legs outstretched into high kicks. On one hand, we can say that it’s hard to get bored during WAVE because the action never lets up. On the other, we could admit that maybe the action should let up every once in a while so that the audience could get some time to breathe.
If Émard’s creation has a fault, it is its allegorical evenness, which borders on homogeneity. There is little variety in the movement, the video projections, and even the bodies of the performers, five women who are about the same height. That being said, the dancers are definitely talented. Though the movement is repetitive, the fact that WAVE is non-stop action means that it is physically demanding work for its performers. There is a glimpse of hope when a flash of yellow light comes like a sharp break in the scenography, but unfortunately there is no such rupture in the choreography and it remains much the same. The lack of progression in the show’s movement ends up looking like a lack of direction. And again I am reminded of Temps de chien, which also had stunning scenography while its choreography failed to leave an imprint on my mind. In short, WAVE is about just as middle of the road as a work can get. It mostly holds the audience’s attention, but doesn’t push anything too far in any direction. If it were a narrative, the word predictable would fit it perfectly.
Seeing the first half is like seeing the second. With its scenography ending in a completely different place from where it started – the stage finally bathed in smoke and yellow light – one wishes that the choreography had traveled a similar path. Still, Émard and his dancers earned themselves a standing ovation from most of the audience on opening night.
It might have been excitement for the first official dance show of the season, or it might have been genuinely heartfelt. There is only way for you to find out . . .
WAVE continues until Sept. 20 at Usine C. Student tickets are $20. For more information call 514-521-4493 or visit www.usine-c.com.