Contemporary Dance Collective creates magic with Sulha
- Written by Meg Pirie
I really, really love dance. I like dancing at weddings, at parties, in actual dance classes, in my living room, playing outfield during a dull softball game, even at work listening to hip-hop at a low, low volume. I think dancing is one of those rare gifts that functions as the great equalizer. No matter what we’re told by highly stylized prime time dance performances on network TV, we can all dance and we each dance in our own unique groove.
But dance is also an amazing means of expressing those moments, memories, or deep-seated senses that don’t always jive with words. There is something incredibly special that takes place when you are invited to accompany someone on a profoundly physical, somatic journey.
So, I’ll do my best to describe London’s Contemporary Dance Collective’s performance of Sulha in the lovely 3rd floor space of Goodwill Industries, but I’m not sure I can ever do it justice.
In a word? Magic.
In several words? Beautiful, multi-faceted, moving, vulnerable, innovative.
This performance piece, named for a traditional method of dispute resolution in the Middle East, explored the paths we take on our individual journeys through the shadows of lived experiences towards reconciliation and self-acceptance. To that end, the Collective writes: “During the creative process we were inspired by the polarity of darkness and light, and how it relates to our own personal struggles, as well as the paths we take towards finding balance, peace, and resolution.”
Featuring the talents of Summer Leitch (pictured above), Dorit Osher (pictured below), and Lindsey Runhart, Sulha also made use of the musical talents of Jennifer Moir (live vocals) and Domenic Massa (instrumentals). What emerged was an evocative performance that integrated various mediums in a completely ethereal setting.
Sulha began with a solo from each dancer, during which time personal struggles were explored. These inner turmoils were borne out through movement and Leitch, Osher, and Runhart created seamless fluidity during this first ‘act’. Intensely vulnerable, this passage through darkness was also intimate. The audience did not just observe the dancer’s shadows, we bore witness to these moments of conflict, distress, entrapment, desperation, fear, anger and grief. During these solos, recorded vocals provided the aural backdrop.
The transition into the second phase saw the three dancers share the stage along with Moir and Massa. The tonal shift, now mindfully focused in the present, was marked for me by this distinct focus on the here and the now. As Leitch, Osher, and Runhart made their way to balance, in whatever shape it took on for them at that particular moment, room was made for moments of synchronicity, mutual support, collaboration and play. We observed a series of movements that rendered concrete each person’s emerging compassionate curiosity and self-acceptance.
At the conclusion, the Collective gifted each audience member with a small memento to take home--black and white marbles with shades of grey--as a reminder to be mindful of the integration and harmony we all seek in our relationships and existences. Because after all, without darkness there can be no light, but accepting ourselves as messy and continually evolving is part of this perfectly imperfect act of living.
Rounded out with Safia Hamatto’s recorded vocals, Ruth Doughwright’s stage management, and Evan Wasse’s costume talents, Sulha was a beautiful, thoughtful narrative.
Summer Leitch, Dorit Osher, and Lindsey Runhart--the members of Contemporary Dance Collective--are highly skilled artists who place real emotion and authentic movement at the centre of their work. London is incredibly lucky to have such an inspiring and generous group of dancers who choose to make their homes here.
I can not wait to see what they create next and I hope you’ll join them on their next journey.
To learn more about the Contemporary Dance Collective, visit http://contemporarydancecollective.ca/
Meg Pirie is a lifelong Londoner who works in communications. Check out her website at http://writeonfreelancing.com. She tweets brilliantly @meg_pirie.