Jackie Burroughs is Dead & what are you going to do about it?, commissioned and produced by dancer Danielle Baskerville, is a haunting and complex piece of modern dance directed and choreographed by DA Hoskins. The dance was inspired by deceased actor Jackie Burroughs who had a deep passion for the art form and was a constant presence in the local dance scene. This piece is all about impulse, emotion, and connection, so it makes sense that it would resonate with dancers, artists and general audiences alike.
All three dancers, Danielle Baskerville, who is the choreographer’s muse, as well as Luke Garwood and Robert Kingsbury move beautifully and fluidly. Burroughs came out of a collaboration that spanned a four year period, and this is probably why there is such a deep intimacy on display. I was in awe of the dancing itself but also the connection of the dancers and the subdued theatrically in their faces.
They flow in and out of private moments, connection with each other, and brief moments of stillness. The movement remains constant, except for a moment when all three turn their backs to the audience as they stand facing a wall. Slowly they re-enter the dance space, and the rest of the journey is revealed.
This is an abstract piece, one in which I’m not sure I could tell you what the story is about. I’m sure that every audience member will get different colours and textures from it. In this way, it becomes a meditation. At first I grappled with trying to figure out what it all meant, but soon in, I just relaxed into the moment and allowed myself to have a very personal experience with it.
Burroughs is exciting because it doesn’t rely on big movements or showy bits. It is intricate, subtle and fascinating to witness the small impulses and contained gestures of the dancers—small movement of the hand—flitting of the eyes. It doesn’t seem that anything was left to chance, there is a deep orchestration to the work, but it never feels constrained.
One small distraction was the costumes. They all wore casual pants and t-shirts and by the end of the piece, one dancer had a zipper undone, one had a button popped open, and the other’s pants were falling down. It’s too bad because it was hard not worry that someone’s pants might accidentally fall off in the middle of the piece.
Jackie Burroughs is Dead & what are you going to do about it? is only on for a few days so be sure to catch it.
Playing at Harbourfront Centre Theatre until April 9th.