Journal

Le Vu Long: Worth the wait- Stories Of Ourselves <font size=2>by Jason Plourde</font> Mar 9, 2007

by Tania Kupczak

Since I am an ASL interpreter, a gay man, and a director of an arts organization (that could be the start of a joke) I feel like the textbook target audience for Together Higher: a dance troupe of Deaf artists who employ themes of HIV and queer identity. I’ve been anticipating this performance since I found out about it last year, and I wasn’t disappointed. The opening night performance of Stories Of Us was extremely enjoyable, beautiful to watch, and very thought-provoking. And I know that would be true for audience members who aren’t a part of any or all of those minority groups.

Actually, that could be a drawback for some. The fact that this contemporary dance company is comprised of nearly all Deaf and Hard of Hearing performers is remarkable ”¦and yet deafness (as far as my friends and I could tell) wasn’t explicitly addressed in the piece. In some ways, Together Higher is a talented company of dancers who just happen to be deaf, and that might be a let down for people who want to see a more overt representation or comment on Deaf issues.

The show starts out slow. The methodical pulsing light on a dark stage, while one woman sits motionless on stage, pushes the limits of patience. That may be the point, and perhaps the discomfort that a couple of my friends and I experience was intended, but don’t worry (as I admit I started to) that the entire 80 minutes would be completely static. It was worth the wait through the introduction to be truly engaged by the dancing and interaction between all the dancers as they gradually each took to the stage.

Highlights included an amazing sequence between the three female dancers, especially as they intertwined and moved against each other across a strip of light cast on the stage.

The duos (duets?) were the most beautiful, particularly a scene between two male dancers (which includes a chaste kiss). Their intimacy was sweet and poignant, and the choreography had them interact in some spectacular ways.

My friends and I enjoyed chatting with the dancers after the performance (using some ASL, some VSL, interpreters, etc) and after we left the theatre we had some good discussions on each of our own interpretations on the piece, on what each dancer may have symbolized, and things happened in the order they did.

I’d recommend seeing this Stories Of Us, especially to support talented Deaf artists. Oh, and I didn’t take the advice of my friend who said we shouldn’t sit in the first five rows ”¦sit further back, the sight lines are so much better.

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