Favourite local performance

Yes We Mystic and the Earthly Paradise

Photo by Adam Kelly

Performance is a broad category, including music, theatre, dance and performance art. On Sept. 21, 2017 at The Park Theatre, Yes We Mystic (YWM) presented an expanded live show that drew from nearly all of these categories.

Yes We Mystic and the Earthly Paradise was the result of a collaboration between Adam Fuhr and Keegan Steele of YWM and choreographer/dancer Ella Steele (who is Keegan’s sibling).

“(F)rom Keegan’s initial vision, The Earthly Paradise turned into a full-on dance, performance art (and) surreal horror narrative. A show within a show, happening all within their hour-long set,” Ella Steele says.

The choreography was also inspired by YWM’s creations. “Each movement, concept or action during each song was very specific and connected to the meaning of each song,” she says.

Dancer Emma Sickert joined her on stage. They began on risers behind the band, and moved around the stage as well as through the audience. As YWM played an otherwise normal set they ignored the dancers, even as their attempts to interact with the musicians escalated.

For YWM, keeping that separation was a challenge.

“(E)ven at that run-through (before the show), we were having a hard time not engaging or looking back or glancing over at the dancers, especially moments where we weren’t playing anything,” Fuhr says.

For the encore, the dancers finally broke with the expectation they’d established as they unplugged instruments and dismantled the drums, cutting the final song short.

Fuhr says that their vision was to create a multiplicity of reactions that went beyond a regular musical performance.

The feedback he got after the show aligned with YWM’s hopes for it. Audience members mentioned “that it was unlike anything that people have seen around town,” Fuhr says.

Published in Volume 72, Number 12 of The Uniter (November 30, 2017)

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