Chiaro:Scuro preview -By John Manson


Chiaro:Scuro is inspired by film noir, German Expressionism, and the drawing and painting technique of using high contrast between light and dark areas in order to capture volume, shadows, drama, and emotion. Dyana Sonik-Henderson’s intoxicating choreography combines Broken Rhythms’ signature contemporary style with different styles of jazz and blues dance in order to weave a nonlinear story that starts with an image of danger, clears the slate, and then slowly builds back up the characters, tension, and creeping sense of dread. I was really taken by the physicality and energy of the dancers as they worked their way through complicated partnering, athletic movements, repetition, moments of stillness, and visually striking prop work.

They also find a way to convey complicated characters through the choreography and various storylines. There are very vulnerable and human moments contrasted with more mechanistic and imposing moments (in speaking to Dyana, one particular section was inspired by the 1927 film Metropolis). The choreography and the staging explore a deconstruction of binaries (good/bad, shadow/light, feminine/masculine) and the sense of moral ambiguity pulled from some of its source material. While Dyana mentioned that one dancer was the closest thing to the protagonist at times, the roles of protagonist, antagonist, narrator and bystander seem to roll, shift, twist, and dissolve with the dancers throughout the piece. The result is compelling, disorienting, and very effective.

“…the choreography, performances, and design, are cohesive, exciting, authentic, intriguing, frightening, and beautiful.”

I love how the music oscillates between sounds that called up a detective story and songs that have a more eerie, haunting or electronic feeling to them. The sepia-toned costuming and dramatic makeup serves to reinforce the show’s critique of binaries between masculine and feminine, and to call up some of the cinematic references (including 1920 film The Cabinet of Dr. Calighari). A sense of danger and suspicion pervades the piece in a way that focuses the dancers, drives the story, and captivates the audience. Overall, the choreography, performances, and design, are cohesive, exciting, authentic, intriguing, frightening, and beautiful.

It is so good and you will love it too, whether you’re already a fan of contemporary and jazz dance, or if you’re someone who is curious to experience this type of performance. Theatre folks, this one will really resonate with you as well!

The show runs April 7th and 8th, 7:30pm at Metro Studio Theatre.

Go see this show!

John Manson has been active in various segments of Victoria’s arts community since 2010, including visual arts, writing, dance, and theatre. Currently, John is also pursuing a Diploma of Public Administration through Camosun College. John sits on the Broken Rhythms Board of Directors and strives to bring his multifaceted local arts experience to this organization that he deeply admires and appreciates. 

%d bloggers like this: