Boombox creates art in unlikely places
Decidedly Jazz makes effort for Fluid Festival
Decidedly Jazz dancer Catherine Hayward performs as much with her eyes as she does with her body. Staring the crowd down, she moves throughout the audience.
The terms “dance” and “outside” usually only come together in the summertime, for obvious reasons.
Often times, though, art ignores the obvious and the practical and we are left with movements like Decidedly Jazz Dancework’s Boombox, a piece performed as part of the Fluid Festival.
The latest work from the Calgary company involved six performers dancing in and around a bunch of shipping containers in East Village.
The show – unexpectedly held outside on the Riverwalk – was cold (among other things). The sky was grey, the wind was icy, and all there was for a set was giant white boxes.
For those not totally sure of the address, it would have been easy to feel as if they were in the wrong place. This is Canada, however, and the cold has never really deterred anything of substance.
Thankfully, members of DJD came out and the audience was herded to the side of a large container, where six dancers started to appear from all sides of the crowd, armed with a set of drumsticks to bang against the walls.
The show had warnings that the dancers would come very close, and it was not an exaggeration. Throughout the performance, ears were whispered in, hands were held, and audience bodies were posed.
Highly percussive music played through each contemporary routine, powerful and intense. The pieces were sometimes jazzy, sometimes with African or Latin influence, and a bit of hip-hop mixed in.
It was unlike any show that frequents the Calgary scene.
For as many themes as there were occurring and recurring throughout the night, one of the most dominant ones was power.
The show was laden with stomping, heavy breathing, as sweat and steam rose from the dancers’ bodies. If that weren’t enough, the audience was also treated to dance-style fight scenes, filled with stares that screamed, “I’m going to eat you.”
The dancers were unbelievably committed. Their passion for their craft was inspiring. The audience was no longer in the safety of their seats — instead, they found themselves at the mercy of the dancers. It was a very humbling experience.
Following a finale to Skrillex-style music outside on the pavement, the show ended without warning.
After spending that much time inside a shipping container, it was difficult to believe that the crowd wasn’t rushing for escape, as shipping containers are not frequently favourite places to spend an evening.
However, Decidedly Jazz had earned that respect by putting on an incredibly memorable show.