April 3, 2005
At the Gordon Best Theatre, 216 Hunter Street, W., 8:00pm
Part of the regular season and also a special event.
What are we up to now?
TRANCE DANCE FORM, Penn Kemp's Sound Opera
Penn Kemp created her sound opera, Trance Dance Form, 30 years ago, when people living in Toronto Island homes were threatened with eviction in the 70's. The opera was danced at Findhorn by an aboriginal dancer accompanied by didjeridoo. This mystical magickal paean to Mother Nature cast a spell with Kemp's incantatory phrases, Brenda Muller's responsive cello and voice, and Wave Weir's fluid illustrative dance. As celebrant/audience, we were part of the raising of a cone of power, carried along a journey into the timeless infinitely deep world-between-the-world.
A sonorous sonata, the opera is in four parts: the first movement "mattermatter" invokes the many-guised Nature Goddess with the "many one many" chant echoed in cello and dance. I felt swept along in the numinous oneness of Gaia's Hypothesis: We are all One as the trio of performers plied their consummate skills. The presto second movement, "moonphase" pays homage to the moon, ecstatic dissociation, magical women and Otherness. A friend of Night and Dark, I saw the moon dance on waves, ripple into a thousand silver splinters. Cybele, the Moon Goddess, was present. Slow and dark, the third, "familiars", jazzily describes hallucination, the pull between "a solid man (callous landlord) and a kite string (the speaker)". Threatened by eviction, the poet is in danger of losing all her familiars as Wicca refers to one's kindred spirits, usually black cats. Discordant experiences floated into consciousness and were purged through the sashaying cello, vocal, dance movements. Finally, "bonepoems", at Findhorn played as a dance of the hunt, explodes into dissonance and renewal, familiars transformed into memento mori, life as transcient and renewed: "long bone lives", the mournful vowels a perfect chant to express life's vicissitudes, reconciliations, passage.
Throughout Trance Dance Form, Kemp's leitmotif syllabic vocals: "trance," "many one many," "mattermattermatter," "changing changing," "blue" and "bone" interact with Muller's plucked and bowed notes and Wave's supplicating/slapping arms & stomping/sliding feet &sinuous/writhing torso to enthrall the celebrants. I hated being the timeskeeper/vibeswatcher host; I wanted to lose myself completely in this magickal performance into infinity. Wow, so mote it be!
From Katerina Fretwell's review in i POP PiNG, September 2005
Penn appears with the assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Playwrights' Guild of Canada.
Author of over 20 books of poetry, 6 plays and 8 CDs, and performer whose poetry has reached audiences from Glastonbury to India to Brazil, Penn Kemp is a national treasure, to be cherished and cultivated accordingly.
See and hear her sound poetry on http://mytown.ca/poemforpeace/, pennkemp.ca, www.mytown.ca/pennkemp/.