Brian Carey Chung’s Lonely House

Brian Carey Chung—artistic director and choreographer for Collective Body | Dancelab—sets the bar high for himself with Lonely House which is set to jazz sung by the late Abbey Lincoln. Willy Laury and Giorgia Bovo make the perfect pair for this work. Laury’s sometimes deadpan delivery, and coquettish Bovo with her impossibly long legs, fill the opening with a blend of seduction and humour. You’ll never have as much fun watching two people flirt and fall in love as you will with this gem.

The segments that follow depict a period after the honeymoon. These parts seethe with the characters’ anxiety of wanting to be together when they cannot—or, paradoxically, being unable to let go of each other even though they can’t get along. Panes of light, projected on the floor, represent their respective prisons, keeping them separated yet still close enough to touch if they would only realize. Laury shines in the second movement, smoothly mixing clean dance technique with natural gestures, postures, and facial expressions. He has some slapstick tableaux, but they are thin veneers of comedy stretched tautly over pain.

In the third movement, Bovo takes a turn in the spotlight, barely clothed and on the very downstage edge of the space. When a dancer is that exposed, nothing else will work but an honest performance and she delivers magnificently. She moves well, inhabiting her character so fully that every facial expression and giggle seems genuine. There comes a point where a performance transcends good acting and becomes the actual incarnation of the character—that’s exactly what this was. Brava, Ms. Bovo.

Although programme notes say the piece concerns a relationship’s decline, the closing section—again, back in those separate panes of light—seems to offer hope for although their bodies squirm in the confines of their distinct spaces, there’s still the sense they’re wanting to be back in the same bed.

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