With wild abandon, slick partnering, and sensitive storytelling, Invertigo Dance Theatre presents After It Happened, a multidisciplinary theatre work of dance, acting, live music and song. The multidimensional work reveals the tragedy, comedy, transformation, and hope of a community that survives a disaster and must rebuild. Invertigo Dance Theatre, directed by Laura Karlin, shows great sensitivity and it's dancers trust in one another with highly physical and emotional interactions. In approximately 20 scenes, Karlin strategically melds dynamic physicality, voice and music to reveal the human condition in a post-calamity community.

© Joe Lambie
© Joe Lambie
As the story unfolds, high impact, full-throttled bodies fling across the space during what appears to be a natural disaster. Karlin creates emotional intensity through the use of intense floor work, propulsive forces and partnering. With sheer bravery and uncanny skill, the dancers catapult themselves across the stage as if taken by gale force winds. The narrator stated “After it happened, the world watched for a while and then the world went on, and so did we.” Layer upon layer, After It Happened reveals man’s vulnerabilities when recover amidst confusion, lack of support, and loss. Scenes alternate between highly athletic dance, poetic narration, storytelling, manipulation of props, song and live music. The company’s strength lies in part in Karlin's dynamic and sensitive approach to partnering work. Her dancers trust each other’s weight, lift, whirl and support each other on the fly.

© George Simian
© George Simian
While a great tragedy unravels in the lives of the performers, they cope and support each other and black comedy emerges to temporarily lighten the mood. Karlin creatively links together disparate situations one might encounter while picking up the pieces of life post tragedy. She uses storytelling (funerals take place and tourists are pickpocketed), metaphor (a bathtub is a shipwreck, performed by Cody Wilbourn) and simile (a blue trash bag is like a bluebird, performed by Hyosun Choi and Irene Kleinbauer), but the work remains deep, a statement about human vulnerability and resiliency. Dancers Ryan Ruiz and Jessica Dunn perform a scintillating and physically challenging duet in which strong forces push and pull them into risky disengagements. Sofia Klass and Cody Wilbourn cling during an emotionally cathartic duet. Chris Smith evolves magically into disparate characters. Louie Cornejo delights with emotionally directed physical skill. Sadie Yarrington’s modulates energy with clear focused dancing, generous spirit, and humor that brings depth to the performance.

When humour noir emerges in this work, it reveals the sheer ignorance among the hegemony, the outsider, the tourist, the reporter. A child shapes a bright blue garbage bag into a bird and dances with it as if it is real; behind her a bluebird puppet, fashioned by John Burton from the same blue plastic, flutters along representing the playful imaginations of a child in a healing community. In the next scene man and woman perform various lifts and interactions while the woman moans and sighs over and over until finally she is able to cry. Clearly, tragedy takes time to be felt. The turning point in the work occurs when a businessman takes control of the redevelopment plan and, like a puppet master, seizes the opportunity to control his subjects in order to gain the most he can from their plight.

© George Simian
© George Simian

The bluebird of happiness does fly again, but one cannot be so sure if the plastic-clad bird is reality or an illusion. The engaging music and vocals performed throughout the work by Toby Karlin, Diana Lynn and Hyosun Choi matched perfectly with the concepts of the piece and generated forces within the dancers.

Kate Bishop and Rosalida Medina designed pedestrian attire for the cast and Bishop the stunning garbage bag gown worn by Jessica Dunn in the finale. Lighting by R. Christopher Stokes created the right mood for every scene, casting just the right amount of light on the dancers to suggest the environments.

 

[Declaration of interest: Laura Karlin, founder of Invertigo and choreographer of After it Happened, is the niece of David and Alison Karlin, co-founders and co-owners of Bachtrack. However, David and Alison have no prior connection to Teresa Heiland, have not seen After it Happened and did not in any way influence the writing of this review other than image editing.]

 

****1