Rankefod at Harbourfront Centre by Chris Dupuis

Choreographed and Performed by Kitt Johnson X-act

Co-presented by Dance works
Photo Credit: Per Morten Abrahamsen

After a four year absence, Danish dance dynamo Kitt Johnson returns to Harbourfront Centre with her newest solo-work Rankefod. Created as a means of exploring the relationship that human beings have with our primordial ancestors, the piece derives its name from the Danish word for Cirripedia, a class of invertebrates that includes barnacles and acorn-shells. This could have been a dangerous starting point for a lesser dance artist, but Johnson pulls the show off with such a level of skill that it's impossible for you to take your eyes off her for a full 55 minutes.

Clad only in a white loincloth and lengthy hair braid, Johnson leads us through a process of evolution on stage, from single celled organism to proto-human, while alternating through extended periods of stillness combined with La La La Human Steps style speed. Acting like a piece of human origami, she folds herself into all sorts of strange positions, resembling a vast array of long since extinct creatures that you've never heard of, but somehow recognize. The program talks about how the pre-archaic body and senses live within human beings like pockets of memory inside the primordial slime of our cells, and I think perhaps this might be part of why the piece registers on such an instinctive level.

Though I'm not usually attracted to choreography that's about "creating images on stage" Johnson makes this style of work interesting because she really plays with how our eyes see. The way she distorts her body makes you frequently forget that you're watching a real person and she degrades to a quivering mass of prehistoric flesh. She's aided handily in this endeavour by Mogens Kjempff's skillful lighting which, despite its simplicity, serves the cause of tricking our eyes immensely. Charlotte Ƙstergaard's evocative yet simple set design, consisting of a cloth backdrop, transports us to the bottom of the ocean, across a Pleistocene landscape, and inside the human body, as Kjempff's light hits it in different ways.

Will incredible skill, precision, and even occasional moments of humour, Johnson achieves something younger choreographers often strive for but rarely accomplish; getting the audience to look at the human body in a totally different way. Absolutely mesmerizing. Catch it while you can!

Rankeford plays at the Enwave Theatre at Harbourfront Centre
October 16 - 18, 8:00pm
Box Office: 416-973-4000

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