Seulement Toi/Only You
As part of Torque '22 at Toronto's Harbourfront Fleck Dance Theatre
Please Note: I hold no background or education in the field or study of dance. Instead, I will comment on the theatricality of the production
I’ve noticed a few elements from the last few dance productions I’ve attended.
There’s a great deal of simplicity in their set designs which is very important as the focus must remain on the dancers and their work.
Anne Plamondon’s ‘Seulement Toi/Only You’ continues in that same vein of simplicity in set design at Harbourfront’s Fleck Dance Theatre. From my vantage point in the audience, on the darkened upstage looked what I thought were seven flats appropriately placed side by side each other. The last two flats stage right were placed slightly downstage for a possible entrance and exit for artists Anne Plamondon and James Gregg during their performance.
I was pleasantly surprised at the set design by Marilène Bastien, Anne Plamondon and visual artist, Hua Jin. Once the performance began, what I thought were flats appeared to be scrims I could see through with the most intricate detailing of what appeared to be trees and foliage. Nicolas Descôteaux’s subtle whispered lighting at various moments of the piece created an almost beatific lighting around Plamondon and Gregg.
Olivier Fairfield’s sound design incorporating the music of several artists (whom I will list at the conclusion of this article) enchantingly underscored the movement of the piece.
The programme stated this evening’s work is an exploration of everything that brings us together or separates us from one another. I had the opportunity to profile Anne this week as part of a column series last week. She stated: dance is “a language of the body, of touching, reunion and communicating through the body from one person to the other.” The placement of hands, the feet, the head are all of prime importance in creating a visual experiential journey.
In watching this performance last night, I can now understand Anne’s sentiment with her above statement. This sensually, intimate communication between partners in dance becomes strongly evoked in ‘Seulement Toi/Only You’ where, according to the programme that through dance, “the protagonists gradually remove invisible veils between each other to unmask the truth.”
Plamondon and her dance partner, James Gregg, took me on a lushly, corporeal experience of movement through sight, touch and the occasional musical sound provided by the artists listed below. At this Toronto opening performance re-scheduled from March 2020, I witnessed two performers who were in love with the artistry of dance through their sinewed, strength, supple, powerful, and harsh creative movements and moments.
During our online conversation last week, Anne wanted individuals like myself who have no background in dance that it is something that is worthwhile to experience. Yes, dance can tell a narrative and sometimes a story does not need to be present in the moment. Instead it is most likely an audience member can be swept away in a visual picture created in a split second on one part of the stage. It might be something that caught your eye momentarily.
In other words, it’s not necessary to understand everything about dance.
And that’s why it’s worthwhile to see ‘Only You’ tonight. What made this production work for me was the fact that Plamondon and Gregg are not merely just artists, take their bow at the end and walk away.
Before they are artists, they are humans first.
I loved this re-iteration. At the top of the show after the stage is lit up, we see both Plamondon and Gregg are at opposite ends of the scrims dimly lit, and it appears they are removing and putting on certain clothes knowing they will be spending time in an activity they cherishingly respect. The almost erotic touch both have in removing and placing on various clothing pieces lets us in on the fact that we can expect more from these two in their dance. Gregg then crosses over to meet Plamondon in her space, and it looked from my perspective as the lights went down they were both ready and fit to enter into a sacred space of dance.
Their 60-minute movement in creative dance, of sensual appeal and of sometimes erotic touching of hands and fingers created a divine sacred space of worship for this art.
Glorious to watch.
SEULEMENT TOI/ONLY YOU by Anne Plamondon Productions
As part of Torque ‘22
Performance this evening at 7:30 pm followed by a question-and-answer period with the artists at the Fleck Dance Theatre, 207 Queens Quay West, Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre.
For tickets: 416-973-4000 or harbourfrontcentre.com
Performers: Anne Plamondon and James Gregg.
Choreography: Anne Plamondon
Sound Design: Olivier Fairfield with additional music by Ezio Bosso, Ben Frost, Daniel Bjarnason, Nina Simone, Dimitri Tiomkin, Ned Washington
Lighting Design: Nicolas Descôteaux
Costumes: Marilène Bastien
Technical Direction: Pierre Lavioe