Moderation in the heart of excess

One of the great things about Toronto in the summer is the proliferation of festivals. Right now the city has been taken over by the Fringe Festival, an explosion of independent theatre ranging from marathon “Waiting for Godot” performances to short pieces by first-time playwrights.

Yesterday we went to see everything in moderation, a contemporary dance performance by Christine Birch and Rhonda Baker. I would definitely recommend checking it out, and not just because we’re related to one of the dancers! There’s something striking about a show that simply consists of two gifted performers, without elaborate sets, props and special effects. There’s just the visceral immediacy of feet and bodies on the hard surface of the wooden stage; dance is all about presence, physicality, movement and gestures that inscribe ideas in space and time, and the show in its simplicity returns you to those primal roots.

The theme of the show is oversaturation, the cultural condition we find ourselves in where everything pushes us towards being “fitter, happier, more productive” members of society. The second half of the show takes particular aim at the barrage of mixed messages that is the mind/body wellness industry, where self-help (“I like myself”) verges on self-destruction. The two performers push themselves to the physical limit in a comedic workout routine that gently satirizes our obsession with “total fitness,” from yoga to pilates to P-90X. This crazed attempt at self-realization is juxtaposed with a self-help CD which, in perfect seriousness, purports to help you control your subconscious mind just like the mind-controlled jet plane in Clint Eastwood’s “Firefox” (1982). It’s a good reminder that none of us are perfect, and that the dogged pursuit of physical, mental and spiritual perfection can be dangerous!

Here is the NOW magazine review of the show, and the remaining showtimes at the George Ignatieff theatre at Trinity College… admission is $10 which goes directly to the artists. Check it out and support local theatre!

Sun, July 10 1:15 PM 620
Tue, July 12 5:15 PM 634
Wed, July 13 9:15 PM 643
Thu, July 14 2:15 PM 646
Sat, July 16 9:45 PM 664


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