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MIMIC: DJD’s venture into a peculiar puppetland

Wednesday 25th, April 2018 / 10:03

 

By B. Simm

MIMIC, produced by Kim Cooper and Peter Balkwill, runs until Sat., May 5 at the Decidedly Jazz Danceworks Dance Centre.

 

CALGARY – Peter Balkwill, one of the creative minds behind the Old Trout Puppet Workshop, teams up with Decidedly Jazz Danceworks on their latest production, MIMIC. The collaboration injects new dynamics into the dance company’s contemporary repertoire. While there’s always a narrative contained within DJD’s performances, Balkwill’s storybook characters are weirdly fascinating, oddly funny and while perplexing as to what it all means, MIMIC unfolds as an engaging, provocative and highly-imaginative drama. It’s a captivating story with a thousand and one interpretations.

The show opens quietly in what could be a full moon scenario out in the Great Pumpkin’s garden patch. Big, bulky orange-coloured shapes that resemble bean bag chairs and an oversized carrot slowly move in rotation forming a curious, cuddly creation– part Big Bird, part carrot monster! As tribal rhythms begins to mount, the loveable hulk slinks back and forth across the stage grooving to its funky moves. The fun soon ends when a gang of aggressive, primitive dancers donning skeleton skins, white masks and bamboo staffs circle in on the defenseless creature from the garden patch.

Guiding the transition from frolicking under the moonlight to danger in the darkness is the Nick Fraser Ensemble – a superb jazz-percussion trio consisting of two drummers flanked on either side of an xylophone player who are the epitome of less is much, much more. They spin a truly exquisite musical score, full of dexterity and rich intricacies running through a colourful gamut of tension and pure pleasure.

Part two of the production shifts from the playful and primordial to the elegant and refined, as the dancers assemble in sexy, silky, gorgeous garments indulging in the delights of French nobility. Big Bird makes a return, this time served to the bourgeois on a Flintstone-sized dinner plate that unwinds into a frenzied feast of climatic proportions.

Making periodic appearances throughout is another strange, empathetic puppet creature in the form of a faceless but adorable child-like alien who watches from the sidelines — an innocent curiosity-seeker that has gentle sway over the proceedings.

It’s a peculiar journey, a weird wonderland that’s bewildering as it is touching, full of beautiful moments as DJD’s dazzling, synchronized choreography moves from one bold, bursting breakout to another.

 

MIMIC, produced by Kim Cooper and Peter Balkwill, runs until Sat., May 5 at the Decidedly Jazz Danceworks Dance Centre.

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