Review: In The Abyss (Citadel + Compagnie)

Picture of dancers, including Ana Claudette Groppler and Syreeta Hector, in In The AbyssCitadel + Compagnie present a stunning dance piece exploring human connection

Citadel + Compagnie presented the world premier of In The Abyss and it’s a breathtaking, celestial work. The performance, choreographed by Aria Evans, seeks to explore the need for human connectivity. Inspired by the idea that we are all made of stardust, this show feels like it was created by humanity, for humanity.

In The Abyss was performed by four dancers, Irvin Chow, Ana Claudette Groppler, Syreeta Hector and David Norsworthy. The dancers orbited around a majestic, monolithic set, designed by Rachel Forbes, that partly resembled a concrete jungle, and partly resembled a spacecraft on the moon.

The dancers were pulsating on stage, and seemed to embody human hearts: alive, pounding, jumping (into the abyss), arresting.  Throughout the performance they encircled one another, navigating their fluctuating desires to push towards and pull away from each other.

The show featured a soundscape designed by composer Babak Taghinia, that was otherworldly and sublime. Moreover, throughout the show, the dancers recited a confessional-style script that read like poetry. For myself, this was the most affecting part of the show. The words were penetrating and reflective, and managed to speak from a human perspective without subscribing to any categorical variables. This was powerful, and a resounding reminder that before any other identifiers, we are all human (and going further back, we are all stardust).

The show’s use of lighting and fog worked to create an ethereal aesthetic that was beautiful, and made the theatre look like a galaxy. The dancers, stardust, seemed to float effortlessly across the stage, soaring to the top of every peak, and dropping into the depths of every valley.

On the whole, In The Abyss is a deeply original reflection on the universal human experience of being alive. It is a moving, timely, connecting piece of work, that asks: at our core, how are we alike? In a time when our political world seems increasingly divided and divisive, this is a question that begs more asking.


Photo of dancers, including Ana Claudette Groppler and Syreeta Hector, by Aria Evans.