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Canada Scene: Dance Machine

By Helen Lam on July 11, 2017

In the National Arts Centre (NAC) Salon from July 12-15, you’ll find Dance Machine, battery opera performance’s interactive installation of 64 pieces of bamboo hung from a large copper disk. A brainchild of Malaysian-Canadian dancer and choreographer Lee Su-Feh, Dance Machine makes the case for dance as a collective act, to be created as well as experienced. Along the way, it challenges the dancers to consider their relationships with each other.

The public will be encouraged to enter the machine, transforming it into countless configurations through playing, resting, and other interactions. As the dancers move through the installation, the bamboo changes and adapts to every movement, forming new iterations of the Dance Machine that will only exist for several minutes, if not seconds. The machine is an interesting counterpoint to the other programming at the Canada Dance Festival. It asks for participation in art, not just the consumption of it. The Dance Machine offers an exploration of controlled chaos, of relationships between people and their environment. There are some simple instructions from battery opera performance for your time in the machine:

  • Change shape
  • Use what is there
  • Occupy centre
  • Relinquish centre
  • Value the marginal
  • Find rhythm
  • Don’t be a jerk

During its run, guest artists will also be on hand to guide you through the experience. Guest artists include acclaimed dancers JP Longboat and Christine Friday.

Photo supplied.

Photo supplied.

Dance aficionados will remember Ms. Lee’s solo work The Whole Beast, warmly received when it made its Canadian debut in Vancouver in 2008. Dance Machine’s stop at the Canada Dance Festival is the midway point in its tour across Ontario and Quebec. It debuted at the Festival Trans-Amériques in Montreal in June, and will make its way to the Impact Festival in Kitchener by September. With its time at Canada Scene short, only four days, you should experience Dance Machine while you can.

The Dance Machine is presented by the Canada Dance Festival and Canada Scene. You can experience Dance Machine from July 12-15. For more information, including a full schedule, please visit the NAC’s website.