Review: UnEarth – In Search of Self (Helix Dance Project)

Unearth. Unravel. Unveil. These are the three layers that are explored and stripped away in Helix Dance Project’s hour-long production showcasing at the Betty Oliphant Theatre. Being a huge fan of dance (as testament to my previous dance experience during this summer’s Fringe Festival), I was eager to check out UnEarth – In Search of Self.

Having spent the day exploring Toronto with my boyfriend, Bob, along for the ride, an exploration of movement and dance seemed like the best way to cap off the evening. As we took to our seats, escorted to box seats but opting for top row instead, we settled in for the show.

The performance combines three different acts as petals peeled away from the self. Beginning with Unearth, the dancers explore the process of uprooting lives, taking leaps of faith, searching for the meaning of self and memories gone by. Using strips of fabric dragged in and pulled away, an emotional tug-of-war, weaving in and out to embrace and cocoon left behind a lasting impression.

Unravel left dancers stripping away layers of their costumes in an act of exposure. An act of coming undone to dizzying effects – the act of losing one’s self in efforts to be found again like a knot coming undone.

Unveil is what is left behind in the end, coming together of pieces that had fallen apart and exposing the final product.

The entirety of the show speaks to human nature in its rawest form. The trials and tribulations that we all find ourselves in at any given time, the need to uproot and cast away former unneeded layers that shield from the truth, the dizziness of losing our sense of self and trusting that we’ll find our way after the fall. After all is said and done, we find ourselves in the end, searching with new eyes and ready to start again.

The performance, skill and sheer talent of the team of nine dancers on stage was simply breathtaking and exquisite. The stage design, use of lighting, shadow, reflection and fog gave the performance a profound otherworldly feel.

Although at the end of the performance, both Bob and I felt like the show seemed to lack in presence. We were impressed by the dancers but felt that the choreography could have used more grit and magnitude to bring the emotions further to life. We both noted the poster for the show, a dancer crawling out of the mud, dirt covered like a predator on the prowl, and wished that feeling carried more into the show. As beautiful as the performance was, we felt like it was lacking, and perhaps could have been a bit longer.

Not that it takes away from the beauty of dance, which in and of itself spoke volumes and something that anyone can draw from. As is the art of dance and theatre, the art of taking human expression and turning it into something mere words can’t fully express, it is up for you to decide.


– UnEarth – In Search of Self is showing at The Betty Oliphant Theatre (404 Jarvis St.)
– Performances run from January 6-9 at 8 pm with a Sunday matinee at 2 pm.
– Tickets are $30 and are available by calling Cara Volchoff at 416 618 1682.

Photo of Brittany Castiglione and Jennifer Mote by Corrina Keeling.