Struggle. Transformation. Rebirth. Metamorphosis is catnip for artists keen to explore their relationship to the world, the humanity found within and without, and the possibility for both the prosaic (redemption) and the profound (transfiguration). It is also, of course, a cycle: the end turns into the beginning, the journey is never completed, the questions remain.
For Vancouver’s Rachel Meyer, bringing Transverse Orientation back to this year’s Dancing on the Edge Festival is part of that cycle. Last year’s premiere was raw, even—she confides—a little rushed. This time, she’s been able to revisit and refine through eyes that have shifted, their focus redrawn.
“I’m in a new place in my career,” she tells me. “I understand more, and I’m better at communicating with my artists—I’ve grown.”
Inspired by the life cycle of the moth, the piece features five dancers (including Meyer) flickering around a single light source, their various states of being played out to the accompaniment of a violinist, who moves around them, looping and building sounds. As hungry caterpillars, the dancers devour apples in a frenzy of crunching and munching, before they climb sleepily into the cocoons that will devour them. (Here, in nature, the moths’ DNA is rearranged causing them to liquefy.)
During her research for the piece, Meyer contacted a moth specialist. “He was so glad that I had chosen them over butterflies,” she recalls, noting the stark differences between the two Lepidoptera. “Moths are heavier, with bigger bodies. They move less gracefully.”
To reflect the nocturnal nature of the insects, she deliberately scheduled the performances late at night, in a warehouse environment. For her, the ambience is part of the choreography.
“It’s dark and creepy,” she explains. “The space is semi-dilapidated. It’s about creating an atmosphere for the audience: as they come in, they are part of the set. They are already entering my world.”
Transverse Orientation runs July 4, 5, and 6. More details and the full festival schedule can be found at www.dancingontheedge.org
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