On a dreary Thursday night in February, I went to see two wonderful women bare their souls through dance at the Pia Bouman School’s Scotiabank Theatre, and I’m so glad that I did. I am often apprehensive of the immersive quality of dance in solo shows – not to say many dancers aren’t wonderful and exquisite, I only sometimes find solo performances less impactful. However, this was not the case at Prevailing Voices. Aria Evans and Lilia Leon, the dancers, both filled the space with their energy and movement, having created pieces that felt as if a chorus of dancers were standing with them. Before the show began, the dancers drew the audience in to the theatre’s entryway, and personally introduced themselves. What a wonderful way to ensure the audience is on the same page as you – these women were honest about their feelings, processes, and didn’t shy away from addressing some of the darker or more painful themes they were exploring. I enjoyed the sage cleanse of the space, and felt wholly introduced to the two narratives of ancestry, history, indigenous past, and colonialism that were the main players of the evening.
Aria and her team created a fascinating world with set design, managing to add incredibly to her performance, “link”. The sepia tones of her environment evoked the idea of losing one’s voice through history, or the various and violent ways that the indigenous past in Canada has been stomped into existing only in historical photos. Aria moves with a burning internal power, full of passion and defiance. She creates an interesting blend of strength and destruction, flushing out the idea of the continuation of trials and struggles throughout a person’s past. Aria continues to develop her dynamic energy throughout the piece, and shows intense emotional depth as well. She had the audience on the edge of our seats through the final, powerful, moments of her piece.
One of the things that made Prevailing Voices so interesting was the unified feeling generated from two entirely different pieces, and backgrounds. Lilia Leon’s performance, “Perdida”, focused on themes of cultural and intergenerational knowledge, motherhood and sacrifice, passion and war. She used her voice and a live score to great effect, moving through Spanish and English fragments in an inclusive way so all members of the audience understood her feeling and intention. For after all, it is the feeling that is most important in dance, and Lilia was not shy with her feelings. It was obvious that the stories she had chosen to explore were of utmost importance to her, and I felt so privileged to have been given such an intimate peek into her life. To know one’s blood is to know one’s life. Her physicality was impressive and interesting as well, moving fluidly between different characters, and showing braveness beneath it all.
Prevailing Voices came at the right time. Encouraging honesty in expression, and uncovering of the truth in history is of the utmost importance in order to move forward in life, and to heal. I am grateful to both Aria Evans and Lilia Leon for shining a light for me on these dark nights of the soul, and am bolstered by the courage of these women to keep moving towards the sun.