On Saturday, October 26th, the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto held the Toronto International Dance Festival. The event showcased various cultures and forms of dance, including Near and Far Projects, an emerging project-based company in Toronto.
Founded in fall 2016 by Ryerson Performance dance students and artistic directors Tavia Christina and Rachel Facchini, they created this company as a way of differentiating themselves as artists in the city. Near and Far Projects (NFP) companies objective, as stated on their website, is defined using three words: synergetic, cerebral and transparent.
These themes help inspire pieces while keeping artistic integrity intact, perfecting each performance so that the piece as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts. If you take out a factor from a performance, whether that be a movement or musical note, it has the effect of that art piece losing one of it’s limbs. That synchrony made for a unique experience difficult to find elsewhere.
The piece performed on Saturday evening was named “Irritation Cycle”, documenting two characters’ behaviours and mental states in their day-to-day monotonous life. This ideology is brought to life in a simple way through contemporary movement. Though the other acts in the festival relied on costumes to act as their “wow” factor, this set was neutral, consisting only of a table and two chairs on either end, with performers holding simple props. Through this set, the attention of the audience was on the interaction of the characters.
The performance started off slow, observing the predicament on stage, to seeing how the characters move around their conflict. There was a balance in the pull and tug as both characters reached for each other but were never quite able to grasp one another. This was Irritation Cycle’s second time performing the piece, having previously been done in 2016 by Christina and Roberston in a more interactive format (or as Christina called it in a previous interview, “time-based art… not meant for the stage”).
This year though, Irritation Cycle was performed by a different set of actors: Rachel Facchini and Hannah Roberston. Their performance this year displayed meticulous choreography, a jump from how the piece was mostly based on improvisation three years ago.
The strongest moment for me was when Hannah Roberston was at a higher level on stage looking longingly towards Rachel Facchini, whose mind was somewhere else at that moment. A challenge the performers said they faced in this rendition of Irritation Cycle was connecting with the audience from the stage, but it didn’t feel that way for me. Irritation Cycle was a soothing rendition of a raw, transparent human interaction in a synergetic atmosphere. This theme was evident throughout the piece, especially later into the performance when both dancers come together and start doing the same choreography: both of them have a strong connection but only for a brief moment. It was a powerful reflection of relationships in real life that felt both honest and truthful.
The accompanying music composed originally for this performance was by musician Paul Ciurea. His objective for the music was to dissociate the sound from each instrument to form a harmony in the score and movement of this performance. The soft lighting only added to this atmosphere, and matched the characters’ colour pallette of a dull yellow and orange with vintage costumes.
NFP’s previous projects consist of various film works that can be accessed through their website. Arguably their biggest accomplishment since starting the company back in 2016 was creating their own show in full entirety, titled “Deimos x Phobos” that followed the conflict of characters in Greek mythology. I would recommend Near and Far Projects productions for those who favour interpretive, thoughtful and expressive art. The project has come a long way in only three years through diversifying itself as a company of the arts in Toronto.
Photo by Isabella Ionadi.