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Review: In a word, Face 2 Face is “Awesome”

By Alejandro Bustos on February 6, 2014

The Face 2 Face dance festival opened last night at Arts Court with two fantastic shows.  If you are a dance lover and don’t have tickets yet, rush out and get them as this series is shaping up to be a wonderful event.

Canadian Anne Plamondon began opening night with her brilliant performance Les mêmes yeux que toi, a deeply personal story about her father’s struggles with mental illness.  Combining narration with beautiful movements, this piece is a touching look at a very difficult subject, as well as a first-rate work of art.

Plamondon received classical training at the National Ballet School of Canada and the Banff Centre for the Arts, before dancing with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal and companies in the Netherlands and Portugal.

This background was evident in her performance, as some of her movements would fit in perfectly on the world’s top ballet stages.  This classical training, however, was combined with modern dance routines that mimicked the pain, confusion and anger that many people who suffer from a mental illness feel.  The resulting combination produced an excellent solo show.

Next up was German Clément Layes who presented his quirky-cum-ingenious work allege.

Photo of Clément Layes by Dieter Hartwig

Photo of Clément Layes by Dieter Hartwig

Picture this: A man wearing overalls balances a shot glass on his head for 50 minutes.  During this time, he waters a small tree – we are taking bonsai size – several times, with each watering seemingly more difficult.  (At one point Levy has a bucket on his head, while still balancing the shot glass).

After making the audience laugh with this eccentric performance, he begins a slightly mad philosophical rant – with glass still on head – that is both baffling and mesmerising.

“This is crazy,” you can imagine the audience thinking, “and silly … and hilarious … and possibly a work of genius.”

Some may object that Layes’ performance is not dance at all, but rather a one-man theatre piece/comedy routine.  In response, one can say that allege is dance in the same way that Finnegans Wake or Naked Lunch are novels.  Just like these two books pushed the boundaries of literature to the breaking point, Layes’ work completely redefines what can be considered dance.

For if allege belongs in a dance festival – and I would strongly argue that it does – then the possibilities for movement-based works are only limited by our imagination.

If you want to see Layes act fast, as tickets for his performances are almost sold out.  Tickets for the other three performances (there are four solo artists in the series) are also going quickly. Packages to see all four shows start at $68, while you can also get tickets for individual performances.