Ottawa Fringe-Coma 2022 – (un)draped

Back at Fringe, holy moley! What a long, depressing break it’s been. And what a warm and wonderful sight it was, walking up to Arts Court and seeing the carefully cultivated wall of posters gracing the wrought iron fencing, as it should. Things were different inside, to be sure…there’s fresh paint and colourful murals around, the elevators are shiny and new, and y’know…working. I headed up to the central Fringe box office, bought myself a shiny new pin and a 10-show pass (which is maddeningly frustrating to use this year, thanks, ‘progress’), and headed on over to catch my first in-person Fringe show since 2019. In this case, (UN)DRAPED , a two-part contemporary dance piece from choreographer Alya Graham.

This show is a quick one, but worth the trip nonetheless. It begins as Choreographer Graham steps out, looking like a star of the silent era in a dapper suit, and introduces the two pieces before they begin. The first is a solo featuring a dancer called Annabelle, and inspired by statues and solitude. A rocking cool tune repeats several times as she goes through her graceful (until they’re not) motions, and doing it while sporting a wicked cool spiky-toga number that must be seen to be believed. It is hypnotic and stunning to watch.

Part two features a duet and two dancers whose names I do NOT know, but they’re both skilled to pay the bills, and one of them has amazing purple hair, and if I can just stop and get serious for a moment..? Their boots are FABULOUS. My gosh. I’m not kidding. Worth the price of admission. Nancy Sinatra, eat yer heart out. But I digress.

The duet is inspired, so Boss Graham tells us, by the works of Egon Schiele, an early 20th century impressionist painter known for his risque, voyeuristic images and haunting self-portraits. Having just learned these things off the internet a few seconds ago, I was going into this one pretty blind. But the sleek and intimate dance sucked me in once again, and even if I didn’t exactly ‘know’ what was going on (at dance shows I never do, and I never worry about it) I still felt invested and even anxious at times for whatever was going to happen next. It was intense and alive and I goddamn loved it.

As mentioned, even with the two pieces combined this one has a pretty short runtime, and the gang stuck around afterwards for an impromptu Q&A session which I presume will happen in future performances. Should have asked them their names, I suppose, but that would mean talking to people, and yeah, nope. Like Egon, sometimes we just like to watch, and (un)draped is a great place to do just that. Playing at Arts Court Theatre, tickets available on the Ottawa Fringe website here. Peace, love and soul,

Kevin R (and Baby G)

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