Ow Challenged My Senses on Four SidesFriday, July 06, 2018
On Wednesday July 4th I attended a preview performance of the Mascall Dance Company’s Ow.
It was at their headquarters on Jervis 1130 Jervis Street. Owe was performed in a large room (I was disappointed to not see the wonderful maize on the floor) in an unusual theatre on the round (not quite as there were four sides). I chose the side that had the video man, thinking he might know something. The fact is that just about any side was good.
During the 60 minute performance (there are 7 more including the one tonight as I write this on July 7 ) I attempted to count how many dancers were present. I had to call to find out that there were 19 in all.
Central to Ow were Billy Marchenski and Molly McDermott. I also spotted that contact improv wonder, Anne Cooper.
I am not a dance critic, if anything I am an amateur dance aficionado who has been seeing a lot of dance since 1991. I even remember seeing a Maypole dance performed by a pre-John Alleyne Ballet BC. I could not believe it! A lot of stuff has happened since then and I would affirm that Vancouver has an avant-garde dance scene with no maypoles in the horizon.
Since then I have seen a lot of work some of it difficult as was Chick Snipper’s Slab performed at the Cultch by three dancers not wearing a stitch of clothing (Anne Cooper was one of them).
While watching Ow I thought of Jennifer Mascall a woman with a gentle and inviting voice who is gracious and is (in my books) very classy. And yet this is the choreographer, who sometime back, had a dance performance that included a dancer swimming in a swimming pool.
Mascall cannot be pinned down and her works are never boring.
Owe was not but it was also challenging. The dancers seemed to be uttering words that appeared to be a manufactured language. The sound was courtesy of Stefan Smulovitz. The write-up on the Ow site explains that the work is a melding of sound with movement. And he did finish with some Piazzolla that pleased me lots.
But to me there was more. I spotted a smart phone held by one of the dancers. There was a lot of tension between Marchenski and McDermott. Perhaps Ow has all to do with human interaction, when explored how we move and how we speak. I am not sure if Marchenski and McDermott resolved their differences in communication at the end.
During the performance I remembered the first time I went to see the punk group the Subhumans perform and in particular two of their signature tunes, Fuck You! and Slave to My Dick. I was in a state of shock by the blast of loud sound shaking my ears and the rest of my body. When I left I felt shattered and numb.
Now when I listen to my Subhuman records I have to state here that while they don’t sound like Chopin they do not shock and I may even hum along.
I believe that Mascall’s Ow is something along the lines of those Subuman performances. Time will tell. Time will soften the work. Time will eventually bring me that aha! moment and I will understand.
Until then watching Ow in that four-sided room is challenging but it is a performance that will linger in my memory.
Mascall has been around and the proof of that is that I spotted both Karen Jamieson and Judith Garay. I wonder what they thought of Ow?