At the heart of Montréal Danse’s piece On the Ice of Labrador is a real story. Actually, not just one story, but many old family tales, collected from the company’s seven dancers by choreographer Sarah Chase. According to MD artistic director Kathy Casey, “Chase loves to unearth stories and find the links and common themes.” It’s an eclectic collection: “Aviators, trombone players, mortality on railroad tracks, bodies washed in Hotel Dieu, blood sugar cycles of a young diabetic,” and the list goes on, but at the core of all this truth is one story that’s a fabrication, which Casey calls “the glue to the piece.” All these stories circle and ride around a character who has been diagnosed with a brain tumour, the treatment for which “could affect what defines your personhood…including your memory.”
Those who find the abstract nature of contemporary dance a challenge should watch out: you may get hooked before you know it, through narration and singing. Casey says, “It’s abstract on a movement level, but it’s gestural as body language. And the stories are concrete.”
Of course, singing and stories challenge the dancers to take on different skills too. Casey says that it becomes a very personal experience—-they’ve worked on telling their tales rather than reciting a script—-and even the lighting is turned up slightly to accommodate the intimacy of that performer-audience bond.
Montréal Danse’s On the Ice of Labrador, presented by Live Art Productions, runs Thursday to Saturday, 8pm at the Sir James Dunn Theatre. Tickets are $16.50-$24 (494-3820).