Review: The Woods & Gadfly

Live Art and the contemporary dance gods that be are back in Dalhousie’s Dunn Theatre with a double bill comprised of Halifax’s own dance group The Woods and Toronto-based Gadfly. The result is an hour of redefined, innovative dance that simmers and burns to various degrees.

The Woods opened up the night with a slow-burn performance entitled _______Interrupted, a moving and dramatic set that explored both mental and physical health. More specifically, The Woods explore how the two systems interact within us, and what can happen when they fall out of sync. Fusing together various dance moves with pulsing, rhythmic musical numbers from the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Drake,  _______Interrupted is a slower affair than I expected. It’s also more cryptic and abstract than other dance shows I’ve been to. Unless you read the program’s writeup, you may be left scratching your head while trying to decipher the message The Woods are trying to convey. With seamless transitions and sequences that lacked neither popping nor locking, _______Interrupted was a skillful, if winding, marvel that successfully fused hip-hop dance styles with a contemporary edge.

After a brief intermission, Gadfly took the stage by swarm (sorry not sorry) with Klorofyl 3.0, a thrilling performance about potential and how every one of us actively makes the choice to thrive or to fade away. While both groups put a contemporary spin on hip-hop, Gadfly was able to deliver the thrilling, high-energy performance I had been waiting for. With masterful choreography and adrenaline-charged classical music, the guns-blazing crew of Gadfly came to slay – and slay it they did. Klorofyl 3.0 gripped the audience by the collective skull and refused to let go. Time flew by for Gadfly and I could have easily watched them for another twenty minutes. Succinctly said, if all dance groups were as intoxicating as these Torontonians were, I’d be lining up for all of them.

This was easily one of the best dance shows I have seen, and judging by the fact that this was Live Art’s first sold-out performance of their 2018 season, I’d say they’re close to cracking the code for future successes. By merging new dance styles with traditional hip-hop, both groups redefined what you expect a live dance show to be. It’s a performance that will keep you riveted, surprised, and not the least bit disappointed.

About the author

Carey Bray

Carey Bray is a local artist, actor/director, and writer residing in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. He's also a theatre critic for The Coast, and has previously written reviews and interviews for The Coast's Halifax Fringe Festival, Atlantic Books Today, and the online blog, Hello Dartmouth. You'll find more of Carey's work on his blog, Sitting Ovation.