Cyclops, choreographed and written by battery opera co-directors Lee Su-Feh and David McIntosh, was more subdued than the title suggested. The one-eyed, savage giant called Cyclops remained a mystery, submerged in the myths and imagery of men at sea and women who wait for them, told through story and song. The often solemn choreography provided a more abstract force, like the sea itself: at times still, gently rolling, or agitated. How to marry the cool abstraction of Lee's choreography with McIntosh's zany theatricality has occupied the duo since 1995.
The quartet of dancers worked mostly in pairs: Lee with Jen Murray, Billy Marchenski with Ron Stewart. Costumed by Jen Tam in simple green pants and white tops, they showed impressive efficiency, flow, and focus, appropriate to choreography based on martial arts, which is increasingly the cornerstone of Lee and McIntosh's artistic practice. LEE AND MURRAY OFTEN GLIDED AROUND THE BARE STAGE WITH WIDE LUNGES, EYES DARTING AND ARMS POISED TO FEND OFF ATTACK.
Lee also trained in traditional Malaysian dance, modern dance, and ballet. These influences were evident in the beautiful flow of the women's arms and in some of Stewart's port de bras and steps on high demi-pointe. But there was an overall lack of musicality, and the movement began to seem repetitious halfway through the work.
McIntosh narrated the occasional story and provided vocals for the songs. His nonsense version of "What Shall We Do With the Drunken Sailor?" had zippy accompaniment by saxophonists Chris Grove and Max Murphy. Liz Hamel's performance of "Dido's Lament," from Henry Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, lent an elegiac note.
Cyclops won the 2003 Alcan Performing Arts Award, which gave battery opera $60,000 Canadian toward the realization of its proposal. Cyclops has the loose quality of a first draft, but a challenging, innovative choreographic vocabulary.
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|Article Type:||Dance Review|
|Date:||Jul 1, 2003|
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