Winter Guests Story, Story, Die

When and Where June 22 – 23, 2022 at 8pm | Vancouver Playhouse Theatre, 600 Hamilton St, Vancouver, BC

Choreography/Text Alan Lucien Oyen Dancers Olivia Tarrish Ancona, Scott David Jennings, Yi-Chi Lee, Waldean Vijay Nelson, Jacob Francis Thoman, Tom Weinberger, Cheng An Wu Set Design Martin Flack Lighting Design Torkel Skjaerven Sound Design Terje Wessel Overland/Gunnar Innvaer

Reviewer Nancie Ottem

DanceHouse brought in a powerful, innovative dance company, Winter Guests for their final offering of the season. Winter Guests fits the mandate of DanceHouse, with its internationally acclaimed repertoire of works that demand the attention of the audience. Story, Story, Die is a case in point. Pushing the boundaries of modern dance, artistic director of Winter Guests, Alan Lucien Oyen, has fashioned a 90 minute program that incorporates theatre, mime, lighting and voice.

Oyen has a strong background in theatre which is very apparent in Story, Story, Die with his use of props and lighting to dramatize the vignettes he creates to tell the story he wants to impart to the audience. Although Story, Story, Die is a one act, 90 minute piece, Oyen uses the drama of light and the sudden absence of it to delineate the vignettes within the piece. He keeps the audience engaged with voice as well, sometimes spoken as a stream of conscience and sometimes a voice speaking blues lyrics to impart a message. “I’m going to take care of you, How’s your life treating you, Are you happy with it, How much money do you make, Do you have a house, there’s no me, I sense something could be troubling you” are all phrases incorporated into the message of Story, Story, Die.

It is a dark message made more apparent with the dim overall lighting and the somber clothing of the dancers. Seven dancers are entrusted with the task of conveying a message that is filled with angst, self-loathing and doubt, desires for inclusion, betrayal/belittling. It is an inhospitable world of gun shots and killing. They dance with technical precision, synchronizing their moves to voice, light and each other. The mime and marionette moves laced into the choreography are taut with timing. The intense synchronization required by the dancers was riveting to watch. The discipline and emotional integrity the dancers gave to the program was rewarded by an enthusiastic audience who stood and clapped in thanks to the dancers.

DanceHouse has once again excelled in their mandate to bring thought provoking, innovation in dance to its audience.

© 2022 Nancie Ottem
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