Earlier Sienna Performance
Photo: Wen Wei Wang

Dancing on the Edge
Wen Wei Dance and ADARTE Compagnia: Barocco Rave

Artistic Director & Choreography Wen Wei Wang and Francesca Lettieri Costume Design Linda Chow Lighting Design Jonathan Kim Sound Design Sammy Chien
Dancers Ariana Barr, Alexis Fletcher, Adrian De Leeuw and Matthew Wyllie

When & Where July 6 at 7pm: July 7 at 9pm, 2023 | Firehall Arts Centre

Reviewer Nancie Ottem

Dancing on the Edge Festival opened its 35th year at the Firehall Arts Centre with the Canadian premiere of Wen Wei Dance and ADARTE Compagnia’s Barocco Rave. Wen Wei Wang has a long and storied history of dance in Vancouver and now is the artistic director of Ballet Edmonton. Barocco Rave was inspired in collaboration with Francesca Lettieri whom Wen Wei met while in Italy. The world premiere of Barocco Rave was in Sienna, Italy.

The piece is infused with an Italian sensibility primarily through the use of baroque music used in the score for Beat Armonico, Lettieri’s piece that harkens one back to the past and it brings the present into play with Wen Wei’s use of Sammy Chien’s score in RE/BUILD/US. To Wen Wei collaboration is an important aspect of his journey with dance. The two choreographers have built a program where each of the two pieces enrich the other.

Beat Armonicoopens with the dancers clothed in long trench coats. They stand forward on a dark stage slightly angled from the audience. As the piece builds the dancers’ movements become more frenzied and their clothing is gradually shed as if they were trying to unburden themselves. The program seamlessly moves into the second piece, RE/BUILD/US as if the audience was looking in on a rehearsal. The dancers set up the props, pare down their clothing and drink water readying themselves for the dance. Skateboards, a drum kit and runway inspired colourful fashion wigs bring todays reality into the dialogue of the choreography.

Both pieces display a sculptural quality in the choreography. The balance between close space and spatial removal from each other as the dancers move to the music is hypnotic to watch. The music inhabits their bodies, their movements expressive of each note in the score. A sculptural quality is also present in the arm, leg and torso movements of the dancers as they pivot between quick and slow interaction with each other.

Barocco means bizarre in Italian and rave can mean to speak wildly or enthusiastically. In today’s time it is also a party fueled by dance. Barocco Rave ends on a celebratory note. Something much needed today.

© 2023 Nancie Ottem