Well, people, last night I took in the first official winterPLAY event - the presentation of "White Caps" by Champloo, a group from Bristol, England. I'd gotten a sneak preview of Champloo at the opening ceremonies on Tuesday evening, and I was dazzled by two young men who are incredible dancers. I'd tried to figure out what "White Caps" would be, as it was a billed as a multimedia presentation but with live dance, and I watched the YouTube videos. I have to admit - even then I wasn't sure what this was going to be, but having an open mind I arrived at the Suncor Energy Centre for the Performing Arts, found a seat, and settled in.
And people - it wasn't what I expected. It was, however, better than I expected. This was the first time this show has ever been performed ANYWHERE in North America, and it has been playing to sold-out audiences in Europe. After seeing it I understand why, too - because it is quite astonishing in every sense.
The show consists of filmed segments, with beautiful cinematography, soaring music, and gorgeous choreography. It is then blended with live dance segments, some incorporating those b-boy moves but also interpretive dance of a very high calibre. If you are one of those who enjoys "So You Think You Can Dance" then you've seen interpretive dance, and you've likely been mesmerized by it, too. And that is the word I would use for Joel Daniel and Wilkie Branson - mesmerizing, from start to finish.
It is very difficult to describe White Caps, and I think it's one of those things you have to see to understand. Even then I suspect some people might leave the theatre thinking "what the hell was all that about?" and that's okay, too (I'll explain why in a bit). For me, personally, White Caps was about a journey, and while I watched it it caused me to reflect on my own personal journey.
I'm going to get a wee bit personal here, so bear with me, because it's pertinent to this. We are rapidly approaching the third anniversary of my mother's unexpected death. I always get a bit introspective around this time because my mother's death was very unexpected, and without a lot of details it changed my life profoundly. I began a personal journey the day she died, and it saw me travel through a lot of territory. In the last year much of that travel involved this blog and all the joy it has brought me, but there were dark times in the last three years, too. As I watched White Caps I thought of the times when I felt it would simply be easier to lie down and give up. The times when I thought it would be easier to just drift on the stream of life, not controlling my own path but just going where it took me. The times when I was so overwhelmed with joy that I could feel myself soaring like a dancer taking flight in the forest. And the times when I faced an obstacle so seemingly insurmountable that I didn't think I could overcome it, when the water flowed down the steps of my life so swiftly that I feared I would be swept away. And, finally, the times when I reached a peak of some sort - personally, professionally, emotionally - and I could see that the journey had been worth every step of the way. And that, people, is what White Caps did for me. It traced the journey we all take in life, the good moments and the bad, and the points where we reach our destination and can reflect on the trip. Last night I reflected on the journey of the last three years, and what was a "multimedia presentation" became a meaningful personal experience for me.
Now, not everyone will relate to White Caps as I did. Some people will think it's "pretty", and some will just think they are talented dancers. Some will think the film is lovely, and some will love the music. And some will leave the theatre thinking "what the hell was all that about?", too. And here's why that is ok - because sometimes it's ok to find things you don't fully understand, that challenge you and make you think. Maybe you'll walk away thinking it isn't really for you and you'll never "get" interpretive dance. Or, just maybe, like me you may actually find yourself tearing up a bit at moments as it touches something in you. The point is that if you never try something new, never seek those new experiences, then you can never know if they will be meaningful to you. You can let life be the stream that controls you, or you can direct the stream and explore new thoughts, ideas, and experiences. We have a unique opportunity here, people. Champloo is in town with White Caps tonight and tomorrow and then they are gone - and if you miss it you will never know what it could have meant to you. That decision is yours - but I know that for me it was an experience that was another step on the journey begun three years ago, and it is a step I am so very, very glad I had the chance to take, thanks to Champloo, White Caps, and winterPLAY from Events Wood Buffalo.