In a minute-long video preview for Bygones, an upcoming dance performance at the Yukon Arts Centre, a man moves his arms around his chest in complex, synchronized motions while a pair of arms behind him follow his movements.
In the next clip, what seems like hand movements reflected in a spotlight move at a surreal, twitchy pace before cutting to darkness. Shortly after, a man touches the ground and then stretches his hands out to the sky.
A woman rolls on the floor. Someone twirls a chair in darkness. Shadowed figures move side to side. A silhouette of a woman stands in a haunting spotlight.
All the while, a deep, low-pitched drum is hit around every two seconds.
It’s abstract but visually enticing, and the show’s choreographer, David Raymond, wants the audience to be drawn to these visual elements.
“There are a lot of really magical moments where I would say, in some ways, you can’t really understand what you’re seeing” said Raymond, who’s also a performer in Bygones.
“We have some really incredible designers who can create some visual and scenic elements that are kind of, I would say… unbelievable, or they don’t fit a visual or physical logic when you first look at them.”
Bygones, which premieres on July 9 at the Yukon Arts Centre, is a performance by the Vancouver-based Out Innerspace dance theatre, of which Raymond is an artistic director alongside Tiffany Tregarthen. As Raymond explains, they approach storytelling through physical movements. He describes Bygones as a show about five characters from different walks of life who fall into an alternative world.
“(They’re) falling down into this, you could say, sub-space, or down into this cavernous world that is mimicking the space that we go to when we fall asleep, or when we go back into our own memories of the past,” he said.
“They’re crossing through and grappling with their past and memories of things that have pulled and pushed them in their past.”
As the characters grapple with their past, they also evolve through their internal conflict. Raymond explains that, ultimately, Bygones is about transformation and change — topics that anyone can relate to, even if they don’t know much about dance.
“We all deal with change. We all deal with loss. We all deal with trying to imagine how to move forward or how to build a future. And we all hold things in ourselves that we grapple with,” he said.
“It speaks to something that anybody can have a context with.”
But Raymond adds that plot isn’t all there is to Bygones. He emphasizes the high energy, grandiose dancing and striking visual elements that also colour in the show.
“Everybody loves high energy things, but it makes the work accessible to kids who might not necessarily connect with the subject matter right away. There’s a lot of visually exciting and captivating elements and a lot of imagery that I think is connected to a deeper element of our makeup as people.”
Raymond and Tregarthen have been creative partners for 14 years at Out Innerspace, and this show isn’t their first performance in the Yukon. They brought a previous piece of theirs, Major Motion Picture, to Whitehorse in 2016 and found the city very welcoming.
“Whitehorse has an amazing theatre, and we really appreciated all the conversations and the feedback and the responses we had from the audience. And we wanted to come up and do it all over again,” Raymond said.
Whitehorse is the first city they’re performing Bygones in, and they finalized all of the show’s components in the city.
“We’d also like to send a big thank you to Yukon Arts Centre for supporting our inner space in that process,” he said. “It’s a critical element for dance companies to be able to have a moment for us to be able to be in a theatre and really pull all of our production elements together.”
After the show, Raymond said he and Tregarthen are hoping to spend more time in the city.
“I can’t wait to go down and meet more people and see more in the city and the area.”
Contact Joshua Azizi at firstname.lastname@example.org