The mind versus the physique: DJD's present Nervous Methods seeks to know the human situation

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Coming off their super success final season with Household of Jazz – which is now set to tour this coming August at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Pageant – Decidedly Jazz Danceworks moved into a totally totally different course, if not a brand new dimension, with its whimsical neural homage Nervous Methods, an 11-dancer, five-musician tour led by composer Carston Rubeling and choreographer Kimberley Cooper.

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Half humoresque, half satirical sendup and, in different panels, suffused with a wholesome sprint of angsty commentary about what our brains inform us that at occasions can appear to outline every of our realities, Nervous Methods is unsparing in its view that we’re as a lot lovely inhabitants of clever motion machines as we’re at occasions victims of how our neural machines can work to over-ride our rational consciousness.

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It could be a mistake to assume that this present was about any type of neuropsychological perspective or a whirlwind tour of neuroscience itself. It’s usually mentioned that when college students start coursework in these areas of research, proclaiming they need to research the “mind,” what they actually imply is that they would like to check the thoughts. The conflation of thoughts and mind was broadly evidenced within the efficiency I took in on Wednesday evening, however as an alternative of it turning into a conceptual confusion, the present took form as one thing way more attention-grabbing.

Somewhat than floating impressionistic concepts on nerve cells, axons and dendrites, Nervous Methods explored common tropes about brains and nerves and succeeded extra in telling us how we view the nuanced mysteries of the physique system accountable for how we conceive ourselves. In different phrases, DJD imaginatively created a present following a well-known saying: once we research the mind, the mind seeks to know itself.

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Sabrina Comanescu performs during a photo call for Decidely Jazz Danceworks’ Nervous System in Calgary. Jim Wells/Postmedia
Sabrina Comanescu performs throughout a photograph name for Decidely Jazz Danceworks’ Nervous System in Calgary. Jim Wells/Postmedia Jim Wells/Postmedia

For instance, most of Half One: Inside was dedicated to one thing extra primary and visceral. Whereas removed from a neuroanatomy lesson, the complete firm’s susceptible pulse-and-flutter offered confined choreographic actions depicting primary electrical transductions, with little alternative for prolonged leg work amid confined motion house. Interspersed with whimsy and spoken phrase, dancers took turns on the microphone to current aphoristic however imaginative sendups of what appeared like a badly written neuropsychology textbook (“Heartache or Headache”, “Adventures within the Circulatory System”).

DJD correctly resisted supplying projected nervous system drawings and in Half One opted for costuming the corporate in gold-green unitards creased with black line drawings of nerve fibres working from shoulder to ankle like abstracted descending fibre tract traces – a pleasant and cheap contact.

Maybe one of the best panel of Half One was “Touching, Isn’t She” that includes Cassandra Bowerman who would feign slowly left then proper with a deceptively light gesture one second, after which a violent shove the following, displaying how the complete vary of contact upon pores and skin cells can come alive. With all of the dancers at one level rising above the ground, squirming wormlike, stretching like hair follicles when sensory stimulated, it was a routine however successfully managed demonstration of how versatile our pores and skin will be whether or not we expertise the merest of passing sensory pressures, or once we take in bodily assault.

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In different sections, typically a small ensemble would type a beating coronary heart, and in others, the corporate would flash from seeming chaos to a confluence of neural energies (“Struggle of Flight”), capturing in a number of instructions down axons to pathways unseen.

Half Two: Out wrestled extra with our illusions in regards to the nervous system via pop cultural films such because the 1967 basic Unbelievable Voyage, which in DJD’s hard-edged dreamscape model (“Fast Eye Motion” that includes a outstanding Catherine Hayward), satirizes an astronaut being shrunk to onstage doll measurement the place he takes an internal journey to the microscopic neural world and is promptly eaten by antibodies to the amusement of many of the viewers.

“Fast Eye Motion” contains a pop cultural breeze-through utilizing earlier sci-fi lore such because the “brain-eating monster (“Braineater” – gleefully danced by an orange tendrilled Sabrina Naz Comănescu), forming a foul dream triptych.  A random-walking astronaut, what seemed like an enormous, Nissl-stained motor neuron with Natasha Korney trapped in material forming an exceptionally lithe nucleus, and a stream-of-consciousness sequence of suppressed concepts allowed to groove forth throughout REM sleep, added to the eclectic circus of disconnected photos. In fact, everybody will take away one thing totally different from this triptych but it surely isn’t laborious to view it as a microcosm inside the microcosm. If neurons do the dreaming for us, then what would do the dreaming for the neurons?

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The spotlight of the evening was undoubtedly Kaja Irwin’s unimaginably elegant “You’ve Bought Some Nerve.” Three giant black balloons, with their strings tied to her pink frilled prime, phantomed floating torso lifts one second and anti-gravity crushing actions the following – a deep tribute to ecstasy and elation and the way it may be simply as rapidly obliterated by melancholy and darkness. For all of the present’s angular apposed strains of dance and sound, “Nervous System” could possibly be a efficiency of disturbing opposites of the human situation examined contained in the human physique – sleek one second, however disturbing the following.

Nervous Methods runs at DJD Dance Centre till Could 14.

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