Michael Nyman

Press Coverage

O Vertigo, Tramway, Glasgow

Herald Scotland :  Mar 22nd, 2011

In so many ways, the eight dancers in this Canadian company really put their hearts into Onde de choc (Shock Wave).

In terms of technique there’s a feast of (seemingly effortless) finesse as they account for choreographer Ginette Laurin’s dazzling switchback of movement styles, moods and pace.

Then there are the facial expressions and gestures that hint at how language that describes extremes of anguish and ecstasy often has the heart as a motif: heart-stopping, hand on heart, heartache – these, and more, flit in and out of Laurin’s thoughtful reflections on how the body’s physical machinery interconnects with our emotional states.

Cue the actual sounds of dancers’ heartbeats, amplified in real time and fed into a soundscore created by Michael Nyman’s gorgeously looping melodic phrases and Martin Messier’s clever juxtapositions of footfalls, pulses and thrummings.

For sure, the rapid rhythms picked up when the dancers apply the on-stage stethoscopes are a measure of the playful running and jumping, the bouts of fierce tussling and combative resistance that ebb and flow across the stage. But Laurin’s curiosity about the crossovers between the scientifically forensic and what we feel and experience brings a rich humanity to hard facts.

Cause and effect is audibly heightened by the raised catwalk upstage that acts as a sounding board when touched, while the strips and blocks of lighting – on floor and back-cloth – paint their own picture of racing pulses, territorial markings, overlap and isolation.

Every detail, including those in costume and make-up, is meticulously considered. A final vortex of activity sees the dancers strip. Blood suddenly trickles down naked bodies, as if hearts have been ripped out – a piquant symbol for an unstintingly superb performance.

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