Sunday, November 27, 2022

Fringe Review: The Movement Museum

Who: Alyssa Nedich & Josh Taylor (The Alosh Movement)
What: The Movement Museum
Length: 60 minutes
Where: Defining Movement Dance (624 Upper James Street)
When: July 21-31 as part of the Hamilton Fringe Festival
Tickets: $12 + $1.75 fee at https://boxoffice.hftco.ca/event/866:628/

The Movement Museum is both the most appropriate, and inappropriate name for Josh Taylor’s and Alyssa Nedich’s collaborative curation. 

Defining Movement Dance has been broken out into seven galleries- each with a distinct theme. Within each gallery is an “exhibit” that contains a dancer; sometimes several. Divided into small groups and armed with a program and a map, clusters wander from gallery to gallery on timed viewings to see each exhibit in action. At the beginning of the show, the audience is reminded not to touch the exhibits. 

Where the name is inappropriate is in everything that happens outside of this structure. The spaces are tight and small enough that performers and audience don’t need to physically touch to build a connection. And in The Movement Museum, connections are made among audience members in the moments between exhibits. Travelling from gallery to gallery, the clusters of audience members are small enough that conversations occur and connections are built. 

This is the goal of The Movement Museum, it seems- to create community and build connections- not just between performers, but to and among the audience. This is most apparent at the very end, when each cluster and each exhibit come together for a final communal performance that celebrates individuality and friendship. 

There is a lot packed into The Movement Museum, and maneuvering around the space was, at times, challenging- not just to navigate and understand where the next gallery was, but to also move through the number of people in each cluster when groups crossed paths. Galleries are extremely close to each other- sound bleed between galleries occurred on multiple occasions to the point where it was difficult to hear parts of the present exhibit. This was disappointing, particularly given the clear effort that each gallery contributed to crafting a distinct, unique world.

While this detracted from the performances, this was only one aspect of The Movement Museum, and those moments of connection- be it between audience and performer, or audience members- seem to be the primary focal point of this production. When Josh Taylor called out “The Museum is closed” at the end of the show, the audience didn’t leave- at least, not immediately. Instead, the Museum evolved into a gathering place, where performers and audience came together to celebrate. A fleeting moment that can only be experienced live; strangers united under a shared experience- whether it’s called a Museum or not, Nedich, Taylor and company clearly created a work of art. 

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