what the critics say
Moments in Time
Toronto "Dora Mavor Moore Theatre Awards" Nomination
for best performance 2015
“The very heart of the human condition”
2008, Classical 96.3 FM
“Reaching a new state of mind”
Globe and Mail, Toronto
Globe and Mail
Moments in Time is a fitting name for the collaboration between choreographer Maxine Heppner and dancer Takako Segawa for more reasons than one: The veteran artists have been building the full-length work over five years and together they have produced a satisfying, thoughtful episodic work.
The piece is made up of 14 solos, each intriguingly named after a person and a state of mind. For example, the beginning solo is Jess’s serenity followed by Susi’s inspiration and Tina’s compassion.
The work can be viewed as specific snapshots from these various people’s lives, or collectively the solos may reflect the totality of a single life with its shifting emotional moods. In the latter case, the names, perhaps, become the people who have generated the response in the protagonist. Heppner as a choreographer is fascinated by both the whole physical cloth of dance as well as small details. The 14 solos range from Segawa executing highly energetic athleticism to almost slow-motion minimalism. The audience is kept abreast of the names of each solo by surtitles, which informs how we view the dance itself.There is also a parade of slides that splash over Segawa containing patterns of oriental carpets that also dictate mood.
Clearly, Heppner wants to direct us in our focus.Segawa is a compelling performer. She has a compact body that couples easy physicality with natural grace, but she can also play with gravity – at one point, she’s as light as a feather; at another, she’s weighted down by the pull of the Earth itself. Her subtle facial expressions play an important role in the piece. With just the hint of a smile, or a wider opening of the eyes, she can convey an intriguing shift in her interior monologue. As wonderful a dancer as Segawa is, she did at times overbalance and lose some of the crispness of her attack, particularly in changes between movement patterns, but this made her all the more human. Music also plays a key role in the performance. The compilation score includes early music, folk-inspired world beat, flamenco guitar, Indonesian gongs and abstract electronica. Silence as a backdrop is also used.Segawa also changes costume either by donning a whole new set of clothes, or by rolling up pant legs or taking off layers of tops. Thus each solo preserves its own individual integrity through movement, music (or lack thereof) and visual attributes.The solos each have their own movement leitmotifs. For example, Chin’s burden is executed with arms tightly folded across the chest and almost slow-motion physicality. In Galih’s present, Segawa loosens her body to embody a gangling teenager. Here the choreography is all about stamping of feet interpolated by fast and furious swivels. Sue’s desire is manifested by sensuous writhing on the floor, the legs slicing in scissor cuts.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the work is that Heppner plays with her own choreographic signatures, those telltale repeating physicalities that hallmark a creator. They are the movement themes, but they are also the variations. The great swoop of arms, the high kick of one leg, the bent body turns, for example, are always present, but are assembled differently in each solo.
It is as if Heppner is deliberately saying, “Here I am as a choreographic writer and this is my vocabulary.”
Classical 96.3 FM
Across Oceans – Maxine Heppner’s Moments in Time
Choreographer Maxine Heppner and dancer Takako Segawa presented their thoughtful piece Moments in Time at the Pia Bouman Studio Theatre over the weekend. Two veteran dance artists collaborating together can produce very satisfying work. Heppner is an accomplished choreographer and Segawa is a compelling performer. Segawa’s subtle facial expressions played an important role in the piece. With just the hint of a smile, or a wider opening of the eyes, she could convey an intriguing shift in Heppner’s dance monologue.
Together, Heppner and Sagawa created a well-thought out dance piece that exposes the very heart of the human condition.
Sensational “Moments in Time”
Your sensational “Moments in Time” work resonated in me… images surfaced unbidden throughout the following week, and even now I conjure up memories of “characters” and feel moved. I liked the projection of women’s feelings, as we are more intense, I think, than is often projected or communicated. I rarely have such a response to performances although if I were wealthy I would like to be a patron!I hope that this work can be shown for larger audiences in the future or for more audiences and would not be surprised if “it has a life of its own”. Hurrah for you both! and warm congratulations on your enduring art.
Gestalt Institute, PhD-OISE
Moments in Time
I have watched a lot of dance over the years and was blown away by the exquisite performance. The work became translucent through Takako. Maxine and Takako are an unbeatable team. I wish my words could express as much as your performance did. I want to see more!
Lois Van Koghnet
My Heart Is A Spoon
by Michael Crabb
Special to the Star
January 18, 2012
If you’ve ever felt the need to release some bottled up emotion or intense, indefinable psychic impulse you’re already half way to grasping what veteran choreographer Maxine Heppner is up to in her latest Toronto production, “My heart is a spoon”.
Heppner, whose more than 30-year professional career has taken her around the world investigating different cultures and aesthetics, has discovered a rich mine of meaning in the world of Japanese manga. Looking at these now internationally ubiquitous comic strips, evolutions of a 17th century heritage that have become an iconic part of today’s pop culture, Heppner was struck by their sense of containment, energy and unseen potential.
The more she thought about and discussed it‚ even convening a panel of experts on the subject, Heppner kept coming back to a central idea, that at their heart these small, boxed, line-drawn manga conveyed a sense of rage. Thus was hatched Heppner’s latest investigative obsession, what she calls the Rage Project.
Explaining her ideas during a break from rehearsals for the new hour-long work, she calls it the first incarnation‚ of an experimental dance-media performance, Heppner wants two things to be very clear.
First, /my heart is a spoon/, for all the included manga imagery, is not itself about manga. The esthetic is being used as a metaphor and compelling visual backdrop for Heppner’s central concern, the amorphous nature of rage. Equally, her chosen title plays on the notion of something that is often empty yet demands to be filled.
And, on her second point, the inherent nature of rage, Heppner wants us to remember that it takes many forms, not all of them negative but be a very creative force, as she explains. It all depends how you handle and direct it.
Translating abstract notions into a theatrical performance brings its own challenges. Heppner’s solution is a character-based situation, not precisely a narrative but certainly a story of personal experience and of a journey from one point to another expressed through movement, sometimes minimal, other times explosive.
Working in close collaboration with renowned Japanese lighting designer Takayuki Fujimoto, a pioneer in the use of high-tech LED devices, media artists Jerome dela Pierre and Elysha Poirier, and cosplay photographer Droo, Heppner evokes an almost surreal environment in which memory, fantasy and reality mix into a heady theatrical brew.
The Theatre Centre’s open performance space is transformed into a white box. Manga and cosplay (costume play) images hover on walls and floor. Takayuki invades the space with pulsating colours. Sarah Shugarman’s music is supplemented with the sounds of the Yoshida Brothers, hip young men who turned the sound of the traditional Japanese shamisen, a plucked guitar-like instrument, into a pop sensation.
In the midst of this complex and evocative sensory assault are dancers Takako Segawa from Japan and Toronto-based Gerry Trentham, each representing different responses to the impulse of rage.
And it doesn’t stop there. Heppner has assembled a number of ancillary events around the performance. There was an origami group-in session to create props for the show, panels on manga history and the psychology of rage and a concurrent Theatre Centre exhibit of DROO’s cosplay photos. This Saturday, there’s a mini-festival of classic, manga-inspired anime. Heck, if you’re willing to show up for the performance dressed as your favourite manga character, you’ll get $5 off the price of admission.
Globe & Mail
Columnist Sarah Hampson
Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012
Taking the rage route to finding peace
Happiness would make for boring theatre. It lacks drama and size, and has no sharp edges. Far better to work with a more extreme emotion, something that jumps out at you and demands to be understood.
That’s what Maxine Heppner began thinking about five years ago when introduced to contemporary manga or Japanese print comics. She had long been aware of the ancient art form, but hadn’t taken much interest in the pop culture version. “And when I saw them, I was struck by the energy that comes off the page, that comes out and meets the eye.”
She was also intrigued by the way a book of them is an act of containment. “It is this benign little volume of paper, sitting there on a shelf. You open it and go ‘wow’ and then you can close it and the emotion of it goes away,” says the award-winning dance artist, director and teacher in a phone interview.
An idea for the exploration of a human condition – a big, raw emotion we hold inside and only periodically let out – began to percolate. “The idea of rage is extreme anger. I don’t think of it as the opposite of happiness. That would be sadness, which has no energy and is a deflation. Rage is in a different realm. It’s extreme, like ecstasy. And I wanted to look at it in all its complexity.”
I thought about rage as the inspiration for art when I sat in the darkened theatre to see Heppner’s latest production, My Heart Is a Spoon. It’s well known from happiness studies that a sense of contentment makes us more productive at work and better citizens who want to volunteer and contribute. But does it help create art? I know many creative people – writers and artists – who feel that their discontent is the engine of their work. Friedrich Nietzsche would agree: “You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star,” he wrote.
The play takes place in a simple, white box of a stage set, onto which large manga cartoons and other images were projected. Two characters, a male and a female, one young, one older, offer different respond differently to their contained rage. Created in collaboration with light artist Fujimoto Takayuki, the theatrical environment is surreal, flooded with visions of fantasy, memory, fear and longing. The female character, performed by Takako Segawa, is constantly moving, writhing around on a large ball, unsettled, whereas the older male character (G