I’d seen mention of Mile Zero Dance and Gerry Morita around the Edmonton entertainment scene for some time, but I’d never attended a performance before. Having now seen Static Electric, the Mile Zero Dance piece at Canoe Festival, I’d definitely seek them out again.
The two dancers, Gerry Morita of Mile Zero and Farley Johansson of Science Friction and Coastal City Ballet in Vancouver, explore a cluttered living space full of lamps, televisions, recordings, transmissions, a piano being played by Viktoria Reiswich-Dapp, a jukebox, and other electric apparatus. At first, the two characters seem completely unaware of each other, although they overlap in space to the extent of tumbling over and around each other on an easy chair and a carpet. Later, they come to interact more consciously, but eye contact is fleeting. Sometimes they have normal-sounding conversation and exchange reminiscences through family-band radio walkie-talkies. There is also some dialogue in German and, I think, in Russian (though it might have been Ukrainian or another similar-sounding language). Morita plays with a cassette recorder, speaking into it and then playing it back, and she also disassembles a cassette tape, constructing streamers on a fan and then becoming tangled in a mass of tape. Lighting designer Patrick Ares-Pilon moves intentionally through the space towing and adjusting carts of electrical gadgets.
The program says that the performance is improvised. It works fascinatingly well. Morita and Johansson are both powerfully athletic and expressive artists who are thrilling to watch. My favourite bits were the ones with “Volare”, “Riders on the Storm”, and hockey play-by-play as the soundtrack. The last bit of the show sounded as if Johansson was dancing in a box of broken glass, and the sound effects were so disturbing I could hardly bear it.
Their last show is in about half an hour (Saturday afternoon) but there’s lots of other good stuff to see and hear and think about at Canoe Festival.