Vancouver Dance Week – Vancouver Playhouse 1985

Choreography: Karen Jamieson
Music: David MacIntyre
Costumes: Susan Berganzi

Who should lead and who should follow and is it necessary to have a leader? These are the questions that have haunted me throughout my dance making career.

The Roadshow is an investigation into leadership, into hierarchy and dominance through the recurring theme of the individual versus the group. The work is built around a group, a soloist and an old fashioned microphone. Each time the protagonist reaches the microphone she is sucked back into the chaos of the group. Each time she is engulfed, a different energy and dynamic prevails, sometimes violent, sometimes lyric and flowing, often mechanical and broken movement phrases. The group reveals to her different answers to the central questions – sometimes she is forced to watch, sometimes she becomes a willing participant.

In looking back at this work, I can see that the answer to the questions posed by the piece is paradoxical: its only when the protagonist accepts the power of leadership, takes the microphone, is she then able to share this power. In the last movement of the work, the group passes the microphone from one to another. The final image is the group moving forward on their journey, carrying the microphone, while the protagonist holds the line taut like a tight rope that allows them to cross to the other side.


Film maker: David Rimmer 1991



The Province

Friday April 26, 1985

By Max Wyman
Dance Critic

Exciting, and purgatory to watch

“The extravagant expenditure of effort, the copious outpouring of sweat, the heaving chest of bodies pushed close to the limit, the rasping intake of breath…

Fashions in dance come and go like the swallows, but one that seems to have settled permanently in the imaginations of the more audacious of our modern dance choreographers is an obsession with crashing, smashing, high impact risk.

One of the first to experiment with the undeniable excitement of this bruising, go-for-broke physical percussiveness was Vancouver’s Karen Jamieson.

This weekend she’s capping a triumphant cross-Canada tour with a weekend of performances at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre.

And all that old obsessive concern with movement archetype, with reduced-to-essence physicality, with the visible effect of stress and risk, is still very much present.

Two of the live works on show are new, and one, The Road Show, she described in an earlier interview as a kind of odyssey encompassing three worlds – a hell, a purgatory and a paradise.

Its thematic core is a kind of jagged, robotic walk for the entire company – according to pre-publicity materials, the work’s title, as early as the beginning of this month, was Walk Variations – and the walk, varied each time but recognizably from the same base, takes these dancers on their odyssey.

I can't honestly say I would have deduced the sociological connections that Jamieson's explanation implies. The walk (brilliantly guided and inspired by David MacIntyre's most confident and accomplished score to date) is supposed to symbolize the dancers' moral burden as they make their way through life, and I found it hard to pick up too much of that on a fast first viewing.

But the hellishness is there all right, in the leering taunts and the feverish, ever-changing sexual coupling of the first section, and there's a kind of euphoric peace to the quiet coda.

Most of all there's the same exhilarating sense of humankind at full stretch - that pushed-to-the-limits air that makes Jamieson's Sisyphus (also on this program, and much changed with a new cast) so powerfully moving.

Again tonight and tomorrow 8:30pm

The Road Show

Winnipeg Free Press
Thursday May 23, 1985
Contemporary Dancers Canada and Guest Artists
Festival of Canadian Modern Dance
Gas Station Theatre, Winnipeg, Manitoba
May 22-25, 1985

Contemporary Dancers cook up smorgasbord of delightful styles
By Sandra Sobko

“ Contemporary Dancers Canada cooked up a dance feast for the last four days of the Festival of Canadian Modern Dance, with six course evening of performances featuring the CDC and five of the newest and hottest Canadian modern dance companies. The service was impeccable, the meal a bargain, and the show a sellout, drawing about 230 people to the Gas Station Theatre.”

“If the evening’s program is described as a meal, Karen Jamieson Dance Company’s menu listing appears under meat. The Road Show features a mixture of music, movement and breathing that dissolves to create a distinctive rhythmic beat to depict a human journey where structures or human bridges are built and destroyed along the way. Powerful and restless, The Road Showcomes full circle as it returns to the opening sequence in its ending”

On the bill: Ted Robinson, O Vertigo Danse, Judith Marcuse, Toronto Dance Theatre and Karen Jamieson Dance

The Globe and Mail

Saturday February 8, 1986

Dance Week puts West Coast scene in national context
By Stephen Godfrey
Vancouver, BC

Vancouver’s third annual Dance Week

After reviewing the “appealing grab bag of ritual, percussion, song and ethnic dance” of the night before…

“Hardly any of these sources or images were visible in the grand Tuesday night program at the Queen Elizabeth Playhouse, the forum for the city’s established companies. These pieces were resolutely urban North American, low key and assured without appearing particularly challenging. The best dance of the evening was the last one, Road Show by Karen Jamieson , a bold, funny and flamboyant essay on some sort of endless power struggle , involving a microphone, a woman in silver lamé, a South American flavour and great deal of striking movement”
On the bill: Judith Marcuse, EDAM, Karen Jamieson Dance

Dance In Canada (magazine)

Summer 1986

Vancouver Dance Week 1986
By Jamil Brownson

“Social issues raised by the “star” syndrome and the implications of violence in the world of rock music were the same theme of Road Show by Karen Jamieson. An androgynous character was both object and subject of the piece, the rest of the cast alternating between desire for the star’s body and taking his/her role.”

Road Show was, in my opinion, the most powerful work shown during DANCEWEEK. It carried many levels of message – from an overview of dance commenting on itself as a performing art to an inner view of the self in performance, from relations between couples in a struggle for power over each other to competition for desired external objects.”

“Road Show was also exciting dance. It relied on bodily movement and gesture, rather than texts or props – aside from the microphone, its stand and cord – to convey its message.”

“David MacIntyre’s score was powerfully electro-pop, with a twinge of sarcasm.”

“Lights broke on a chorus of two male, New Wave rockers and three females clad in 50’s-style dress. At the centre, Daina Baldois, a David Bowie-like figure in a shimmering grey suit, pranced, stripping the tinsel world of show business to the bone.”

“The members of the Karen Jamieson Dance Company displayed a high level of dance artistry in the feigned violence and wild style swings and catches between partners. Leaping back and forth, they appeared to long for whatever “other” was around them.”

Jamieson’s choreography used combinations of vertical and horizontal space, playing with hierarchy. There was a very effective diagonal exit – a tug-of-war on the microphone cord, slowly pulling the dancers offstage.”

Both Jamieson and her dancers projected a peak level of exhilaration, good form and confidence. If Road Show sets the standard for all her work, they are ready for a high profile tour.”

CBC Radio: “The Afternoon Show”

Thursday April 9, 1987

“Spring Sketchbook” Judith Marcuse Repertory Dance Company of Canada
Review by Deborah Meyers

“Spring Sketchbook is the title of an informal evening of studio dances by two Vancouver modern dance companies: The Judith Marcuse Repertory Dance Company of Canada and the Karen Jamieson Dance Company”
“…And Karen Jamieson shows her 1985 dance, The Road Show, with a new twist to it: its accompanied by a previously filmed video of dance, called “Work In Progress” by David Rimmer, which is shown on TV screens on wither side of the stage while the live dance happens in front of us. Rimmer also participates in the dance, moving amongst the dancers with his video camera. This adds an interesting slant to this work, which is about the magnetic force of a live microphone and its hypnotic and degenerative effect on a group of people. In this context, the video camera becomes a kind of voyeur, detached from the action yet distorting it by its very presence. As in all of Karen Jamieson’s works, there’s a strong sense of a primal underworld seething beneath the surface of this dance.”

On the bill: Judith Marcuse RDCC, Sal Ferreras, Karen Jamieson Dance