Essentia – Winnipeg Fringe


As those who read this blog regularly are aware, I have my favourite places and spaces. Most recently Fools and Horses Coffee has becomes such a place. Coffee shops seem to be a great way to get to meet creative people, as so many of them work in the service industry to pay their bills. This is how I ended up taking in Essentia. 

Essentia is a dance show collaboration between Hilary Crist and Janelle Hacault, two young dancers/choreographers. Ms Hacault also works at Fools and Horses, and when she told me about her show I put it on my list of shows to take in.

Essentia: Show Times

Essentia consists of two works. Each of the two performers having choreographed one of the pieces. The first is The Hopeless Dream of Being (Crist choreographer), The second is Impimatur (Hacault choreographer). While different in style and tone, each work has a theme of conflict that runs throughout the piece.

Essentia Cover

From the Essentia program cover

Conflict is unsettling, and both pieces project a certain violence that leaves you on edge. It is perhaps more unsettling for the fact that in many cases it is muted.

You find yourself waiting for an explosion that never comes. Another unsettling element is that much of the violence seems to be internal. The violence which we do to ourselves rather than to others.

Dealing with conflict requires a great deal of strength. Both Crist and Hacault bring a strong, athletic style to their dancing. This is necessary both to the parts and to deal with covering a large area of floor space during the show. Covering the entire stage with their dancing helps to heighten the sense of conflict.

When it comes to displaying strength, there are a couple of spots in the second piece where Hacault is called on to hold difficult poses that suggest a real mental strength to go along with the physical strength.

The other thing that the strong, athletic dancing brings to the show is that it lifts if away from being too melancholy. Even with conflict you will leave the theatre with a sense of uplift after watching this performance.

Like Sea WallEssentia is a must see Fringe performance.

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