by Deborah Meyers
Friday July 8 2016
"Where the costume is the set:
The Outliner: an evening of solos
July 7 9 p.m., July 8 and 9 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., | St. Paul’s (1130 Jervis St.)
Tickets and info: $22 to $28, firehallartscentre.ca
It would be accurate but incomplete to say that Jennifer Mascall’s The Outliner is about the place where dance meets design. It’s also a peek inside Mascall’s long-standing West End studio at 1130 Jervis Street for only the second time in as many decades, and a glimpse into the fertile, iterative, gloriously unfinished practice of one of this town’s most unique creative forces.
On paper, The Outliner is five solos from each of Mascall’s choreographic decades, where the costumes are architecturally devised and the garment is the set. In practice, it is anyone’s guess, and this is only part of what makes The Outliner so eagerly anticipated.
Each of the solos and worn structures has a densely layered story, but maybe one of them can stand in for all the dances.
In discussing her 2011 installation Remnants of Memory (retitled Profila Eterna here), Mascall describes asking designer Catherine Hahn to “make a costume. Then I’ll make a dance for the costume.”
The dance turned out to be about “playing with volumes, the space that goes up beside you and around you. Dancers know about it, but rarely make it visible.
“After a residency on Saltspring Island last summer, the piece morphed into being about getting dressed. I remember clothing I wore as a child, blouses that buttoned down the back, so that my mother had to do me up. Which led me to ask: What is it to dress someone? To be dressed?”
This equal weighing of the material and the metaphorical, and the bold privileging of process over product, is part of what has set Mascall apart from her peers over the years. (She was recognized for her singular role with the 2015 Isadora Award for Outstanding Contribution to Dance in B.C.)
Mascall has participated in every Dancing on the Edge Festival to date, with the exception of one when she was out of town, and this year invites audiences into her St. Paul’s Church Hall lair for only the second time in 26 years.
“It’s likely to be hotter than blazes in there”, she says cheerfully. “We’ll have to give the audience fans.”
That is maybe the one thing that is certain about a performance that is important for its uncertainty. There are only five showings, and a very limited number of seats (about 50) for each outing.
“It’s not really a concert”, says Mascall. “More of an entering in.”"