Feb. 20, 2013 - Issue #905: DOA No more - Trading in punk for politics
Wen Wei Wang was already 27 years old when he left China for Vancouver. He was an acclaimed dancer in his former homeland but, upon arrival on Canada's west coast, found himself facing a communication breakdown: he hadn't studied English, and he was already an adult, making it even less acceptable to have almost no basis for the country's dominant language.
"I lost the [ability] to communicate with people through language," he says, decades on from that point. "I feel like I became a dog, or animal or something. I only sense people, I only guessed what they're trying to say ... That was strange and stressful, in a way.
"On the other hand, it gave me the time to read people, to feel people," he continues. "That part is like animals; it's the sense, how we feel it. Just through the way you look at them, or smell them or something, you can really see the person beyond their words. And to me, dance is beyond the words: it's body language, it's energy, it's physical."
And it's this silent, more animalistic sense that's given direction to Wang's Seventh Sense, seeing its world premiere in town as the closer to the Brian Webb Dance company's season. A piece for six dancers, its explores the tension between control and freedom, and ideas of love and communication free of societal constructs that usually define those parameters.
"Basically it's about controlling, to be free: wanting to be alone but afraid to be alone; wanting to be controlled, but sometimes you want to escape," Wang says. "Wanting to be touched, but afraid to be touched. To have all those kinds of ideas involved. That's where the pieces started building."
That animal inspiration Wang notes he's drawing on has a source in his life: for the first time, he owns a dog, and finds it is perfectly capable of communicating what it needs from him without saying anything.
"You just look at his eyes. They make it very clear what they want, what they don't want, without words," Wang explains. "As human beings, we do that too. Sometimes, we forget."
Near the project's onset, Wang learned most of his dancers had dogs growing up, and knew the silent, communicative experience he was discovering. With that in mind, he had them all starting with improvisation, and then revising, seeking out the natural connections that emerge between people when left to find their own approach.
"It's like painters," Wang says of starting with improvisation. "They start a sketch—they don't really know the result will come out—so you start a sketch of ideas, put on the table. In the beginning we do a lot of improvisations, building steps, building movements. And then we try to find the meaning; then we try to form the storyline. Then we try to put them together. So we don't have a story beginning: we use the image, use the body, to try and make connections."
Fri, Feb 22; Sat, Mar 23 (8 pm)
Choreographed by Wen Wei Wang
Timms Centre for the Arts, $20 – $35 vueweekly.com comments: powered by Disqus
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