+(dix) by Danse Côté
A film by Vikram Dasgupta, a live to stream premiere
Harbourfront Center Site
Please note I hold no formal educational background or training in the art of dance. Instead, I will comment on the staging of this streamed production filmed by Vikram Dasgupta.
This article is a commentary rather than a review.
There is much to appreciate about the art of dance when it is performed live. From the productions I’ve seen for a few years now, I’ve always admired the high energetic athleticism of the artists when there are solo moments. Within group choreographed moments, I’ve also felt a synchronous human and sometimes sexual synergy between the dancers, and I’ve respected how that same connection they establish with each other emanates strongly to the audience in front of them.
This latter statement also applies to Vikram Dasgupta’s film +(dix) now streaming through the Fall For Dance North Festival.
My recent conversation with filmmaker Vikram and our conversation has led me further to understand how film allows an audience to witness other elements of the art of dance that might not be seen by a live audience. Dasgupta does not want his films to appear like a reality show. It is imperative to him that his presence must not be felt or seen anywhere in any of his films.
Some background first.
The online Fall for Dance North programme speaks of +(dix) (think of your high school French class for the pronunciation) as a full-length new work by Guillaume Côté examining the notion of the “inner compass” and the idea that “home” may be a state of home. Throughout the film, five performers from the new collective group Danse Côté perform on a minimalist stage using the Odysseus myth, amplified by music of American experimental band Son Lux, to examine the journeying far but always returning home.
The title +(dix) confused me when I spoke with Vikram. Our conversation went well as I learned a great deal more about dance, but I wasn’t sure if I truly understood what the title means. The online programme referred to the following short statement – “Begin again. Ten”.
Okay, the number ‘ten’ appears to be that magical number to which we all count if we need perhaps a ‘time out’? To re-start again? To begin something new. Just this past week, I saw two solid productions from Soulpepper/The Howland Company/Native Earth Performing Arts and Theatre by the Bay which both dealt with the theme of home. Two entirely different perspectives on what ‘home’ means and I had to be aware that ‘home’ means different things to each of us.
I had to begin again when I saw these two different productions last week. Yes, somewhat of a stretch, I get it, but for purposes of understanding the nuance of +(dix), this understanding was important for me as I had to begin again to understand the context for the film.
As stated earlier, +(dix) utilizes the Odysseus myth to explore home. A count to ten because I had to review quickly that myth. (Again, a bit of a stretch, I know). Personally, a very brief understanding of the myth is fine, but I just wanted to admire and appreciate what Messrs. Dasgupta and Côté beautifully created by listening, hearing and watching what was presented before me.
In watching Dasgupta’s film, what struck me the most was the capture of the sound of dance. Yes, there is a silence about dance as the artists hear, listen, and move to the music but there were moments where the film finely captures the sound of dance either in the music of Son Lux or hearing the breath of the artists as they move around the minimalist playing stage of the Harbourfront Dance Theatre.
One of Mr. Dasgupta’s aspirations for the film was to be in the dance and in the moment where we see the human expressions on the faces of the artists. I loved this because it worked wonderfully for me. The film beautifully captured facial intensity in the dancers’ focal concentration. At times I saw intimate camera closeups of agony and ecstasy while at other moments a baseness and rawness of the flawed human condition was also candidly caught by the camera technique. Additionally, the opening and closing of the film reflected the focus on the dancers and away from Vikram. Guillaume Côté sat in front of his dressing table in preparation for the dance, and I loved hearing the voices of the dancers all at once at the conclusion. Effective for me.
Final comments: Vikram hoped that +(dix) allows the art of dance to be in its truest form. For my uneducated background in dance and movement, he accomplished what he had set out to do.
With that being said, I do hope there are more opportunities for all of us who have little or no background in this unique art form to continue watching whether it be through film or live performance.
You can catch +(dix) through www.ffdnorth.com.
Running time of film: approx. 60 Minutes
Choreography - Guillaume Côté
Creative Assistant - Anisa Tejpar
Music - Son Lux
Costume Design - Yso South
Lighting Design - Simon Rossiter
Stage Manager - Jean-Hugues Rochette
Producer - Etienne Lavigne
Performers: Guillaume Côté, Rakeem Hardy, Martha Hart, Benjamin Landsberg, Kelly Shaw
First premiered: August 4, 2021 at le Festival des arts de Saint-Sauveur
Livestream Director - Vikram Dasgupta
Producer - Ariana Shaw
Production Manager - Arun Srinivasan
Lighting Designer - Simon Rossiter
Venue Partner: Harbourfront Centre