By Erin Maduck
The modern person is supposed to embrace modern art. They should fully comprehend chaos, beauty and angst, and the wonderful ways these entities can be intertwined to create a complete picture. The more contrasting emotions involved in a piece, the better. And at the last curtain call, if the modern person is not thoroughly confused, they are probably sleeping.
Screaming Fish was a dance/theatre/ video event created and choreographed by Nicole Mion. Divided into two parts, Screaming Fish offered audiences a dialogue-free dance film called The Road Project and a live dance performance focusing upon the ins and outs of "hip martini bar culture."
The Road Project originated from the idea that dance could be put into film and, more specifically, incorporate a road. The film follows the journey of a young woman as she encounters many diverse artists while walking down a Southern Alberta highway. Some of these mysterious individuals are bikers, hutterites or accordian players. Are you confused? So was I.
The film tirelessly attempts to send out a message that is truly indecipherable even after a great deal of program study and post-viewing thought.
The music at the beginning of The Road Project sounds oddly similar to the background beats spewing from a lower-than-normal budget pornography. It is not until the last two vignettes of the film that audience members are alleviated from the swanky accompaniment and treated with sounds slightly more dimensional. The calibre of dancing is strong but camera angles make the appreciation of the film’s one notable quality rather nauseating. I wouldn’t rent this one on video.
The second half of the show did not seem to be thematically connected to the first and was, as a result, immediately off to a good start. The performance featured humour, musical diversity, and dancers with an incredible wealth of talent. Telling the tale of twenty-somethings and the emotional tornado they undergo in the bar setting, this performance communicated concepts to which many could relate. The choreography appropriately captured the essence of misunderstood sexuality, surface emotional exchanges and most significantly, the lack of gratification at the end of it all.
The performance’s only serious detriment was length. No matter how fantastic Screaming Fish was judged to be, this critique was inevitably tainted by the fact that the show ran too long with far too much repetition. After about 45 minutes the audience had taken all of the leaps, lifts and leg kicks they could handle. The music–once uplifting and refreshing–became the cause of minor headaches. It is unlikely that I was the only one who began checking my watch in-between every split jump. By the last five minutes of the show, I was trying to decide whether to poke my eyes out or leave. Luckily, I did not have to test either of those options.
After the Screaming Fish production, I sat in my seat for a moment to ponder my experience. Was I closed-minded or should I blame my inability to enjoy the show on a lack of intellectual depth? Well, in the peak of my turmoil, a man seated behind me summed it up perfectly:
"I do not believe that I am modern enough to fully comprehend modern art."
At least I am not the only one.