Perhaps love is just a big inflated ball of hot air. I wondered this as I sat for the opening 20 minutes watching and listening to Handmade Blade (billed as a jazz trio but seemed more amplified experimental) who shared the stage with a large white inflatable ball with the word LOVE in bold black letters placed upside down.
Abstract, playful and quirky, it is clear that Ziyian Kwan the well-known dance artist commissioned to create this dance work, was not interested in providing a literal explanation of love, but rather, a fragmented look into the chaos and complexity of this unknowable force. I appreciated the non-didactic, non-linear approach to storytelling supported by loose, organic and often riotous movement passages.
The intersection with the live musicians resulted in mixed success: at times the soundscape was heartrending, emanating a melancholic lovesickness as thick as the memory of longing or love lost, but unfortunately, at other turns the amplified & distorted strings were simply too abrasive and the volume too loud. But perhaps this was a conscious creative choice to illuminate the breadth of the lived experience of love – the sweet and the bitter.
In the end the piece that was missing for this theatre goer was a clear understanding of each of the characters and their relationship to each other. In fact, I felt they had more of a deep connection to the inanimate oversized beach ball than to each other. Whether inhaling its contents, nuzzling in its deflated state, tossing it toward each other or blowing it up, Ziyian Kwan and her fellow dancer Noam Gagnon seemed very far apart. Yet again fellow reader, I must ask if my own desire to feel connection in this splintered world we share, swayed my eye and ear and I am reminded that the inverted word love – EVOL – which consumed my gaze at the outset of the work is only two letters shy of the word EVOLVE. So please go and experience this work with your own heart and let me know where it lands for you.