Wild Cursive keeps the cursive, but drops the wild

Wild Cursive begins with a bang, its performers suspended in midair and screaming when the lights turn on. Their actions reveal a concern with circularity from their inception. A female dancer demonstrates the level of dexterity that is to be expected from all her counterparts as she remains in a seated position on only one foot while she keeps all other three limbs in constant motion.
Lin Hwai-min’s latest choreography for Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan, which showed last week at Place des arts, relies heavily on its performers’ athleticism. Maybe a bit too much, actually. In the first few moments, the fluidity of the movement and the unexpected shifts between stillness and speed are admirable. However, the skill of the dancers rather quickly runs thin due to a lack of artistic ambition.
In their swiftness, the performers exceed the limit where the eye can recognize the solidity of the limbs, their blurriness accentuating the movement. Such motion, though initially impressive, quickly becomes repetitive due to a lack of diversity. Force is to say that seeing the first five minutes of the show is almost equivalent to watching the work in its entirety.
There is very little doubt that the dancers are incredibly agile, but ultimately the feeling is that their virtuosity is presented as an end in and of itself. With a lack of artistic endeavor, Wild Cursive sometimes comes across more as a sporting event than as an artwork. This judgment is not such a stretch, given the choreography’s obvious martial arts influences.
Near the end, Lin finds a way to pick our interest back up by deploying strength in numbers. All 19 dancers of the company are gathered on stage in a tightly knit formation. It is at this moment that the fluidity of the movement and the alternating shift between stillness and speed finds its best outlet. Set to the sound of waves, the performers really come to embody the quiet power of the ocean.
But the formation breaks up and so does the power that had gathered with it. We then return to our former state, one of slight disappointment with the work’s lack of diversity and artistic aspiration. Ultimately, Wild Cursive ends with a whisper.
PREVIEW: From Sept. 27 to 30, as is now custom, Tangente begins its dance season with its delightful program entitled Extracurricular Dances. This year, seven recent graduates from Montreal’s top three dance schools (including three former Concordia students) get to show what the next generation of Quebec choreographers has to offer. Student tickets are $13. For more information, call 514.525.1500.


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