How does one create a singularly audio dance project in isolation? [in]verse, by Grammy-award winning and current Bang on a Can Canadian cellist Arlen Hlusko, was conceived in lockdown and produced by Toronto’s Fall for Dance North dance festival. Hlusko’s dream collaboration delivers an album beautifully paired between dance artists, poetry and compositions. The texts were chosen and thoughtfully delivered by Canadian and international dance artists, merged with classical and contemporary selections curated and performed by Hlusko and a select few musical contributors. There are so many wonderful readings and performances, the collection of 26 tracks takes time to fully appreciate, and though the text and music are paired like wine to food, they each stand out on their own.
The reading of Blue Head by Asisipho Malunga with dancer/choreographer Mthuthuzeli November is a standout moving tribute to loneliness and the self as home. Pairing it with the Sarabande from J.S. Bach’s fifth solo cello suite makes an interesting and introspective communion, and provoked thoughts on home through a colonialist lens, (whether intended or not). Another standout for me was transgender choreographer Sean Dorsey’s reading of his original poetry, excerpted from the sound score of his full-evening production Uncovered: The Diary Project. This powerful work is both heartbreaking and illuminating and was informed and inspired by a year-and-a-half long community research process researching diaries of transgender and queer people, with original music composed by Alex Kelly. This track is so perfectly delivered it’s worth the album alone.
With readings chosen by the movement artists themselves, from dance legend Peggy Baker and a long list of award-winning dancers and choreographers, each selection is thoughtfully tied to wonderful music, reimagined as if walking through the text while listening. Whether or not you delve deeper, it’s a beautiful album.
One caveat: the album notes included do not seem to contain more than the basic credits or tracklists; for full notes, including the composers and text translations, you will need to go to the album’s website. It is worth the time to check them out properly.