Review: Denise Clark’s wag

If there’s one commonality shared by each and every one of us, it’s our innate, human search for happiness. While the meaning of bliss has countless definitions and is found in many different ways, we all strive for a state of inner balance and peace, particularly after times of hardship.


It’s for this reason that Denise Clark’s wag, which ran recently at the Firehall Arts Centre, is one performance that we all – on some level – can connect with deeply.


Photo credit: Trudie Lee

Photo credit: Trudie Lee

A one-woman performance from compelling and inviting performer, Denise Clark of Calgary’s One Yellow Rabbit, wag seamlessly integrates both dance and storytelling into a powerful narrative. It is a bold and intimate look at this woman’s profound pursuit of joy following two heart-wrenching tragedies – the death of both a brother, and a father in the same year.


wag begins with Denise’s recount of a slow and solitary walk to the theatre, a journey she has no doubt done many times before. With an image of a snow covered landscape providing the backdrop, Denise steps foot on stage in a parka and backpack and delivers a captivating monologue from within her drawn hood. It’s subtle effect, with a large impact – an immediate invitation into her mind to share in her most personal thoughts – that sets the tone for this intimate performance about to unfold.


After transporting us through several other memories – the recollection of dancing alone in an Ottawa park at 4am being a definite highlight – the mood darkens as Denise reminisces on loosing her two much-loved family members. Denise doesn’t leave us down for long though; she’s on a mission to find happiness through this darkness, and has a strict “cheering up program” to which she abides.


Continuing on, Denise entrances us with her “booklist” – a quirky arrangement of interesting gestural choreography, which she executes gracefully with just the right amount of humour. The performance hits a high point with the “waltz party,” a bold and swirling display of colours with an attitude akin with a euphoric impromptu dance party.


Photo credit: Trudie Lee

Photo credit: Trudie Lee

No doubt a skilled performer, Denise’s talent lies in her instinctive ability to transport her audience emotionally, taking them with her by the hand on this refreshing journey of discovery.


Those that saw Denise Clark’s wag left feeling satisfied, not to mention contemplative as to their own personal definition of happiness.



Categories: Musings