Sunday, November 27, 2022

Fringe Review: Kiss the Stormy Sky

Who: Sid Ryan Eilers
What: Kiss the Stormy Sky
Length: 60 minutes
Where: The Zoetic (526 Concession Street)
When: July 21-31 as part of the Hamilton Fringe Festival
Tickets: $12 + $1.75 fee at https://boxoffice.hftco.ca/event/866:590/

Choreographer and dancer Sid Ryan Eilers, composer Shn Shn, and dramaturg Anna Chatterton’s Kiss the Stormy Sky is a contemporary dance performance featuring live ambient music performed onstage. Eilers illustrates various facets of the central character’s personal journey, showing that a person’s memories, not the labels they’re given in life, are what truly make up their identity.

Shn Shn’s compositions and Eilers’ dancing seem to inform each other as the narrative of the dance unfolds. Wearing headphones, Eilers dances in front of a projected stormy sky as the audience take their seats. Shortly after the house lights fade to black, at a seemingly spontaneous moment, Eilers whips off their headphones, and Shn Shn’s melodic vocals and ambient music flood the theatre.

This engaging form of well-controlled chaos continued throughout the performance, juxtaposing slow with frenetic, and hard with soft. One of my favourite sections featured Eilers dancing while wearing a backwards fur coat. Eilers’s movements, Shn Shn’s music, and a very effective use of stage lighting created an ugly and unnatural monster.

As is sometimes the case with dance performances featuring only a few lines of text, the purpose and meaning of a couple of sections eluded me. And the pacing of the production suffered a bit because of slow transitions- but even when the purpose was unclear or the pacing a bit slow, the audience didn’t have to wait long to be rewarded with another beautiful bit of choreography.

Contemporary dance fans are likely this play’s target audience, but anyone with an interest in the nature of personal identity and how memories inform our lives will enjoy Kiss the Stormy Sky.

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