Review: Undivided Colours (inDANCE / Co.ERASGA)

inDance presents solo performances by Asian-Canadian dance artists on stage in Toronto

inDANCE and Co.ERASGA present Undivided Colours, four solo works by seasoned Asian-Canadian dance artists. Reflecting, re-imagining, mixing dance styles and stories from their personal heritages and perspectives, the four solos take the Dancemakers Centre For Creation stage.

The show begins with William Lau’s Female Warrior Wu – Preparing for Combat. Dressed in blue, pink and red traditional Chinese garb, the solo tells the story of a female warrior named Wu Sanniang during the time of the Song Dynasty. She prepares herself for a fight against the Song Army as she learns they are about to invade her village.  Lau’s movement is quick, clean and full of intention. Lau travels through the whole space through fast, small, rhythmic steps with his upper body acting out precise and clear gestures. He makes personal eye contact with each audience member, at times intensely holding it. Long feather-like horns stand on Lau’s head, which are bent down into different beautiful shapes and images throughout the work; such a beautiful piece with a beautiful costume.

TRACING MALONG choreographed and performed by Alvin Erasga Tolentino, makes use of a traditional Filipino garment. A malong is a large, tubular fabric worn in the southern Philippines. Tolentino seamlessly manipulates the fabric through a staticy soundscape. Beginning with an expressive Martha Graham Lamentation-esque feel of being engulfed in the fabric, it morphs into different items, such as a dress, a turban, or a blindfold. All which change Tolentino’s movement – bringing his traditions and cultural memory into the contemporary space.

Before the performance, I was welcomed in the lobby by performer Peter Chin. Holding a Tibetan singing bowl full of small pieces of paper, he asked if we would like to contribute by drawing something relating to our hopes, dreams or fears and place it in the bowl to be brought on stage with him. Compound Around, with choreography, music and performance by Chin works within meditative movement as Chin merges his past work in sound poetry with contemporary dance. Chin is a captivating and charismatic performer, with fast, clean and smooth movements. Chin laughs and giggles through the performance reacting to the soundscape, and is highly emotive and expressive through his face in connecting with the audience. It was easily my highlight of the night.

The show finished with The Frog Princess, choreographed and performed by Hari Krishnan. Told through a gender-bending reimagining of the classical Indian dance Bharatanatyam. The story follows Princess Mandodari, who is cursed to live as a frog until she meets her husband. Krishnan begins on stage with only his bright green gloves lit. Although simply dressed in all black with these bright gloves, the costuming tells a story in itself. As Krishnan removes the gloves, long pink nails and sparkly bracelets and rings are revealed. Krishnan elegantly plays with various gender archetypes throughout the work.

This was a great night and show as each solo is wonderfully unique, full of purpose and presenting new perspectives. The curtain call brought out each performer, moving in relation to there piece, all on one stage together showing the show’s strength in variety. Undivided Colours is performing across Canada, next in Ottawa on June 3, and Vancouver June 6 to 7.


Photo provided by the company.