Expressions Dance Company’s performance of Natalie Weir’s ‘7 Deadly Sins’ is amazing. Amazing. Go see it. Immediately.
Staging its world premier at QPAC, this contemporary dance piece seems to combine dance with yoga and even acrobatics, stretching the body into positions of balance and strength that occasionally seem impossible.
True to the name of the work, there are eight dancers in the piece. A mortal, and one depicting each sin. They appear one by one, building up layers to the performance. The work opens with the mortal, on a stark stage that is luxuriously set with a heavy gold, shimmering curtain. Gold and other metallics are a strong theme throughout the production, for obvious reasons, and the way the gold curtain is lit helps the audience to separate each story. Dancers appear in various simple boxes, which are moved across the stage as props to dance on, dance through or otherwise manipulate. These boxes are the only props.
This trend of contrasting opulence with stark utility is echoed in the costumes. Oh, the costumes! They are utterly beautiful, and perfectly suited to each sin. Gluttony, for example, has rolls of golden fat; and Envy’s cape resembles a serpent. Greed is decked in gold from head to toe, with golden beads and jewels dripping from his neck. Like the stage, however, as soon as the sin is established, the costume is quickly stripped away for simple black athletic gear so that the dancers can do what they do best, unencumbered.
And the dancing is a pure pleasure to watch. It’s the little touches, like Envy’s imitation of a snake striking, or Greed’s stealthy stealing of other performer’s discarded costumes, that make the performance such a treat. In Gluttony’s scene, the dancers create a feeding-frenzy illusion that elicited whoops and applause from the audience. Lust simulates sex in a stylized fashion so that it looks both beautiful, and remains totally PG to any kiddies in the audience.
To round off the experience, the music is haunting and slightly crazy… in a good way. It is electronic rather than classical, and could sound like the soft murmuring of human voices (hence the slightly crazy, but as you could imagine in a particular kind of hell) or dropping water, depending on which sin was dancing.
This performance was breathtaking, exciting, mesmerizing and inspirational (the yoga class is calling!), and well worth the standing ovation the performers and creatives received at the end.
The season continues 21-29 August, QPAC