Toronto's Native Earth Performing Arts have embarked on a new journey, presenting a double bill of dance-based works as a departure from their traditionally theatre-based productions. The show consisted of two hour-long performances which differed quite considerably.
The first piece, Luu hlotitxw: Spirit Transforming was a traditionally based performance set initially to drum beats and traditional singing. It morphed into the use of video and soundscapes, along with a highly theatrical usage of masks to tell a story of a young man who loses his way, and finds it again through reconnecting with tradition. While the story is captivating, and the choice to weave in the 3 methods of storytelling is interesting to watch, unfortunately the 3 languages of storytelling felt disjointed from one another, so it felt like there was a bit of guess work from the audience. That said, there were some beautiful moments of realization and surprise for the audience, so it is certainly a piece I would love to see continue to be refined.
The second piece, NGS (Native Girl Syndrome) contrasted considerably. It was performed by two young women in a space littered with garbage and the contents of their carts. An abrasive and somewhat contradictory soundscape played counter balance to the images of these women who were sad and lonely, clearly isolated. As the piece progressed, there were some stunning images they created with the objects around them. In particular, as one dancer rolled across the floor in beautiful choreography, covered in a large clear plastic sheet, it was difficult not to have images of young womens' bodies being pulled from the river in my home town of Winnipeg. The work was challenging to watch, but highly necessary. My only qualm is dramaturgical; I felt the piece could have shortened just slightly, to increase its impact.