Ottawa’s Caithream Celtic Dance Fusion had a huge hit on their hands with last year’s Highland dance retelling of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, A MacSummer Night’s Dream. This year, they bring a similar fusion of storytelling, theatre, song, and dance with Passages about a Scottish Clan’s exile from their homeland and subsequent resettlement.
Should you see it?
Passages is the story of the eviction of Scottish Clans from their country and their subsequent relocation to Canada. Put together by Caithream Celtic Dance Fusion, Passages is a dance show. So the short version of this review is that I love a good dance show and Passages delivers.
The show is told in parts, from happy Scottish living, to being told they need to leave their home, to the harsh three month voyage across the ocean, to the eventual resettlement in Canada and first Canadian winter. In between, we’re given some scripted bits to fill in the gaps on what’s happening.
Sure, these girls aren’t actors, but they don’t really need to be. The scripted pieces are short and aren’t really about dramatic interaction or engagement. They do what they need to.
The real dramatic interaction and engagement all come from the dance choreo, which is absolutely wonderful. The dancers emote and engage well. And from the third row in Arts Court Theatre, there’s not a lot of distance between you and the dancers for them to hide lack of emotion. You can see the time they’ve spent working it, and you can see their love and passion for what they do.
In fact, I felt that Arts Court Theatre was the one weakness Passages had. With sometimes nearing a dozen dancers bounding around on stage, the vibrations could often be felt in the seats, which was mildly distracting (or at least took getting used to), and wasn’t a problem while they were in Academic Hall last year. Nonetheless, Caithream Celtic Dance Fusion didn’t have a say in venue choice and the Fringe PTBs do the best they can so there’s no real fault to be had.
The dancers of Passages did their best with the space and created a wonderfully intimate show that I was sorry to see end.