The Perfect Word

I have a deep and abiding interest in the solo dance form, and value most especially the highly specific distillation of physicality it demands and reveals. I often develop my work in relation to systems of information (mathematics, science) and from creation in other mediums (visual art, literature), and I had been pouring over The Book of Symbols – a compendium of hundreds of key words that describe the natural world, our bodies, and the objects we make and use – when the idea for this work emerged. More languages are spoken in Toronto than in any other city in the world, and inspired by this multiplicity I thought of capturing individual voices to develop a multi-lingual soundscape, unfolding in real time, as the score for a choreographic event. The Perfect Word involves solos by 10 dancers, each of whom speak a different language, and who describe in movement and text, the symbolic meaning of an individual word. Audience members are invited to step up to a microphone and to speak a word, in any language, in response to the dancer’s performance. Each voice is instantly embedded into a soundscape that layers and loops throughout the multi-cycle duration of The Perfect Word. The audience is free to enter, exit or return at any point while the performance continues to cycle and evolve.

concept, choreography, costumes: Peggy Baker

sound design: Debashis Sinha

Meryem Alaoui / Arabic
Nova Bhattacharya / Bengali
Zhenya Cerneacov / Russian
Jesse Dell / Plains Cree
Sarah Fregeau / English
Ana Groppler / German
Louis Laberge-Cote / French
Sahara Morimoto / Japanese
Mateo Galindo Torres / Spanish
William Yong / Cantonese

The Perfect Word premiered in 2014 as a 12-hour cycle for Toronto’s Nuit blanche; was presented for four 3-hour cycles in a derelict building on the abandoned west island of Ontario Place as part of in/Future (2016); and in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre of the Four Season’s Centre for the Canadian Opera Company’s free noon hour concert series in 2017.