Review: New Conformity a compelling use of juggling, dance

The Times Colonist is covering the Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival, running to Aug. 31. All ratings are out of five.

The New Conformity

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Where: Metro Studio

When: Aug. 23, 24, 27, 29, 30

Rating: 4

Using the ancient art of juggling, Sean Brossard, who created this show, has crafted a dance-like performance that’s clever and compelling.

Its age-old theme is simple: man struggles to assert his individuality through art. The show starts with four business-suited men who juggle and march about in robotic unison, checking their watches. One finally abandons his jacket and juggles in a unique fashion, despite the efforts of the others to make him conform to their style.

The individual vs. society concept is not breath-takingly original, but in this wordless piece it works awfully well. The performers are all accomplished; a routine in which Chris Murdoch juggles what appear to be glass balls is absolutely mesmerizing. At best, jugglers can make objects appear to have an anti-gravitational life all their own. Murdoch managed this magic, as did Brossard, employing similar wizardry with plastic discs.

What makes The New Conformity a stand-out is Brossard’s decision to meld juggling with elements of contemporary dance. Set to funk and hip-hop style music, the performers dance and juggle through defined scenes that, for example, suggest wrestling or a subway commute. Providing such narrative elements elevates the performance. Friday’s audience loved it, rewarding this Vancouver company, Implied Intuition, with a standing ovation.

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