Review of Farfalle

June 01, 2011

By Janet Smith , May 31, 2011 A TPO Multi-media production. A Vancouver International Children?s Festival presentation. At Performance Works
on Tuesday, May 31. Continues to Sunday, June 5

The wildly creative multimedia show Farfalle starts to work its magic even as audience members start entering the
doors into its dark world of glowing garden forms.

There, a single dancer is rolling around with a soft ball that looks like a silk-enveloped egg.

Digital projections of fireflies dart around and over her, and even the smallest members of the crowd are sent into hushed wonder as they file onto mats on either side of the stage.

What unfolds is anything but a literal rendering of the life cycle of a butterfly. In this dance work, the two performers bounce between projected eggs on the floor; make otherworldly noises by
blowing through long, hornlike renditions of the butterfly?s curling tongue; and swing an illuminated, oversized cocoon between them.

It?s one thing to watch the highly capable dancers in Farfalle, undulating and spinning amid an ever-shifting animated world of flowers, caterpillars, and butterflies. But the magic really starts
to happen when children are invited, almost wordlessly, onto the stage.

They innately and unselfconsciously step into the performance, with the slightest gestured direction, hopping between illuminated egg projections, or in one case, moving beneath a giant sculptural
screen cocoon that?s been lowered over them. At the show?s high point, several tykes are fitted with wristbands that allow them to create projected squiggles by waving their arms over the floor. At
this morning viewing, a few girls tried to balletically flutter like butterflies, while one boy raced around in circles, his arms outstretched like airplane wings.

Farfalle finds an artful new use for technology that puts the kids in thrall. Remarkably, the two dancers would often step off the stage to leave their recruits alone to move amid the luminous
garden. They had no problem directing the children on and off the stage through gentle signals; not one wayward little rascal missed a cue or disrupted the flow of the show.

Interestingly, this is the kind of show that could not have been mounted at the fest?s old location at Vanier Park, because it requires a complete black box to perform in. It?s at least one good
argument in favour of the new site at Granville Island?and for theatre that doesn?t spoon-feed small children, or shy away from handing them the spotlight now and then.


The Georgia Straight