Theatrics of Dance: Discoveries in Dialogue

Wen Wai Dance presents “Dialogue”, a contemporary work at the Scotia Dance Centre, a part of the Global Dance Connection series. In collaboration with male dancers from varying backgrounds, skin colour, and language, the work examines language as artificial structures of culture and affect in a multi-cultural society.

Language in a cultural setting has many layers built up with different ways of knowing. It draws on a line to “play or be played”. In the opening scene, dancers are arranged in a semi-circle, flanked on the outskirts by men of colour and focused on a single white male’s back, which excludes a whole view. It brings home an awareness of structures.

The universality of dance opens up dialogue across diverse groups through each dancer’s embodied expression. In repetitive gestures, the double-fisting pattern similar to the game of rock, paper, scissors highlights a need to communicate, to make a connection.

Variations in movement adds to a rich, sensory quality aroused by the physicality of the dancers. The dancers’ movements walking across the stage has a rhythmic feel to the pacing of a fashion runway show. An encounter designed by an experimental dance structure plays to each dancer’s lively persona, and everyday objects to capture the essence of the individual. A language for each dancer emerges as styles, gaits and signature sounds of stilettos develops an aura or presence unique to each dancer. I see into a space where structures are reframed and connections can flourish outside the barriers of creed, colour or language.

Dialogue continues in a scene with two dancers. One dancer of asian descent in a headstand defying gravity, remains strong in form. In contrast, a white dancer in an upright vertical line is dancing alone, entranced in his own world. A visible shift occurs as the white cushion unfolds into a shirt and once donned the asian dancer’s arm spasms  into a self-beating with his left hand slapping repeatedly over his shoulder. Once the shirt is removed and worn by the caucasian dancer there is no conflict or struggle. I realize in this moment the power of dance to communicate.

This work, as a theatrical art form, is communicating a broad idea of dialogue from particular cultures. Dance mirrors an ebb and flow in contemporary society. As individuals, and part of a larger collective, navigating the boundaries of understanding and being understood through multiple ways of representation is aptly explored through embodied expression.

The choreography driving the creative process of discovery, experimenting and developing movement and sequences is impactful. Dance has the ability to transcend structures as the immediacy, visual understanding is clearer and at its heart lies human connection. “Dialogue” opens our visual field in the commentary across multi-cultural backgrounds, colours, and language.


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