You may have heard of Shaping Sound. They are a dance company established in 2012, created by 2015 Emmy Award winner for ‘Outstanding Choreography,’ Travis Wall with Nick Lazzarini, Teddy Forance and Kyle Robinson. Wall was also the runner-up for the Fox reality show So you think you can dance. Alberta Ballet and Break the Floor Productions brought Shaping Sound to Edmonton and Calgary for two sold out shows in both cities.
The show opens to the full company engaging in fun, contemporary choreography. The costuming in this number is modern and bright. The production then breaks to feature a couple who are fighting. She tries to persuade him and he just won’t have any of it. Their movements are aggressive and pleading all at the same time. And then she falls asleep and has a dream. This is where the company fuses different styles of dance with a contemporary flair. There are many stunning lifts and pirouettes. The piece entitled ‘Exposure’ has the guys in wife beaters and crisp white shirts with fedoras and the women in seductress black costuming. The movement sizzles.
The final piece in the first act features Mallauri Esquibel in a sparkling red dress and the entire feel is a Jessica Rabbit (from Who framed Roger Rabbit) meets Marilyn Monroe (singing diamonds are a girl’s best friend). The lifts show such strength and athleticism from the dancers.
But the first half of the production feels safe in comparison to the second half. The second half opens to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, which is what the Calgary audience was there for. I’ve never heard hollers at a ballet production, but that happened for this sequence. It was fun and energetic and exciting, but not the most technically advanced sequence of the night. The darkness comes out later in the second act, with the company delving deep into the dream of the woman on stage. The second half features a dark uncomfortable sequence entitled ‘Darkness’ and it’s a thing of nightmares. All of the dancers except for the man in black is costumed in gloomy green, with full masks pulled over their head and the choreography is full of violence and fear. Their movement is creature-like as they chase the woman around the stage. This is provocative movement and theatre.
The set design by Jesus Rodriguez and Greg Anderson allows the dancers to move around and have light break through on the stage. Paired with the outstanding lighting design by Seth Jackson and Nathan Scheuer complete with red spotlights gives the production an edge and is almost another dancer on stage.
Shaping Sound has managed to expose a mainstream audience to a high energy, provacative production of dance. It will be interesting to see what this company does next.