The Murky Place is a dance piece featuring a collaboration between Kayla Jeanson, Oriah Wiersma & Alex Elliott. Although scattered across Canada, all three dancers have roots in Winnipeg. My connection to ths show is Kayla Jeanson. I’ve known her since her days working at Eat! Bistro and Twist Cafe.
The venue blurb for The Murky Place begins with the following statement:
Within a sonic landscape of recorded memories, violin and Icelandic lullabies, three dancers encourage us to fathom the depths of our own psychological territories. With embodied vulnerability, each soloist scans the abyss and wonders: “What if there is nothing?”
Each of the three set pieces brings a different perspective to answering these questions.
Dancing in The Murky Place
The show begins with Kayla Jeanson coming out on stage. She is joined by an ASL interpreter. As an introduction she reads out some introductory comments on the works that she and Oriah Wiersma will be performing. The first two performances proceed without interruption.
Before I continue, let me just say that dance is a discipline that I find challenging to understand when it comes to meaning. So, I’ll give some comments on some of the things that struck my imagination.
In the first piece, one of the things I noticed is the way the dance is performe within a thin strip of light across the stage. This forces me to play close attention to Wiersma’s movements. The size of the movements also caught my eye. watching as Wiersma stretches her limbs, I find myself aware of my own body.
It’s almost Wiersma is checking to make sure her own body is actually working and won’t let her down. As Iget older, this is a feeling that keeps on recurring. This is an abyss I can’t help staring into.
At the end of Wiersma’s dance, the stage goes dark, and then light comes up to find Jeanson in place. This piece produced the oddest reaction in me. Part of the costume Jeanson begins with is a white sweater/hoodie(my eyesight didn’t pick it up too well). During the dance she removes it and leaves it at the front of the stage.
After she removed it, and started to move away from it, I suddenly started thinking about Linus’s song “My Blanket and Me,” from “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.” While that may not be intended, leaving behind a security blanket is one way of facing the abyss.
Alex Elliott’s dance began with her singing an Icelandic lullaby. She and the ASL interpreter gave the audience an English translation beforehand. This lullaby involves outlaws and their constant search for home.
While all three dancers perform physically demanding roles, Elliott adds a sense of desperation to her movements. There are prop elements that make it look like she is trying to escape. Escape from or to, you’ll have to decide. If her character is searching for home, one is never sure if she finds it. Did she merely stare into the abyss, or did she fall into it? Did she find her something, or does she feel there truly is nothing there?
These are my thoughts. If you go, I’m sure you will have your own thoughts, most likely better and deeper than mine. One thing I do like about the show, is that ther is no applause until all three dances are done. This helps to connect each dance more fully to the next..
Go see this show.