We Don't Need Another Hero needs a bit more experimentation

Jonathan Zagrodnik

Staff Writer

The Theatre Centre is hosting the world premiere of Meagan O’Shea’s new piece of dance theatre called We Don’t Need Another Hero.

 Through this piece, O’Shea explores the origin of truth, the value of joy and sorrow and, of course, the way that negative news is delivered to the world. The piece combines solo dance and movement, group abstract dance, multilingual dialogue and audience participation.

Visually, the piece is incredibly striking. Upon entry to the performance, the audience is exposed to a bare performance space with three-quarter seating. Each audience member is given a stone to place on stage. These stones become integral to the exploration of movement done by O’Shea. It gives the audience a real connection with the action that is taking place on stage.

The first section of this piece follows O’Shea’s movement around the space, as she communicates directly with the narrator of the piece in French and English dialogue. O’Shea’s movements become mesmerizing, as she blends perfectly with the music created by Debashis Sinha.

From there, the piece seamlessly transitions into a dance segment performed by Christine Birch, Nicole Rose Bond, Brodie Stevenson, Linnea Swan and Brendan Wyatt. The sheer talent that these dancers possess is just incredible. Their movements are precise and perfect. There are some parts of the piece that have clearly gone through rigorous choreography and there are other moments that feel very natural, almost as if they are being improvised on the spot. If that is the case, the balance creates very visually stunning images that demand the entire attention of the audience.

That being said, this is the longest segment of the piece and it certainly feels that way. There are parts where this scene begins to drag, and others where the stage feels so busy that the audience doesn’t quite know where to look.

The third and final act of the piece is centered on O’Shea once again. The movements of this section are all aimed at exploring truth of the mind, head and body. O’Shea even goes so far as to perform this segment entirely nude and she should be commended on her bravery for doing so.

She then goes into improvised movements and explorations of the space, with the narrator telling her when to switch up her movements whenever they become stagnant.

Then the audience participation comes in. The audience is asked to take a stand on where they believe truth lies (the heart, head or gut). From there, there is a large group dance and the piece is over. While including the audience was a good idea in theory, I feel that it could be a very uncomfortable experience, being thrown into tight quarters with strangers and then asked to dance with them. This part of the piece also felt very messy and it lacked the strong structure that the rest of the piece had. That being said, this is something that can’t really be rehearsed and I feel that by the end of their production run, this part will become a lot tighter.

While We Don’t Need Another Hero is visually striking and the performers really shine, I feel it lacks a purpose or message. Given the nature of this piece, I would want to see it evolve over the next few years and see what this it could become with more rehearsal and experimentation.

Presented by DanceWorks CoWorks and Stand Up Dance, We Don't Need Another Hero runs at The Theatre Centre until April 12. For more information visit  theatrecentre.org.