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Shay Kuebler’s MOI – Momentum of Isolation captures many sides of loneliness

Momentum of Isolation
Aiden Cass and Sarah Hutton are two of the eight dancers in Shay Kuebler's MOI – Momentum of Isolation. Photo by David Cooper.

Episodic, heart-wrenching, and explosive. These are just three adjectives to describe Shay Kuebler’s MOI – Momentum of Isolation, which will be at the Firehall Arts Centre from Wednesday (March 6) to Saturday (March 9).

Produced by Radical System Art, this contemporary dance performance explores loneliness from a variety of perspectives,. In this ensemble show, eight dancers—Kuebler, Keiren Bohay, Aiden Cass, Jade Chong, Sarah Hutton, Nicole Pavia, Katherine Semchuk, and Calder White—offer interpretations through solos.

“Shay Kuebler’s dedication to crafting inventive performance pieces that confront the immediate human experience is to be admired,” Firehall Arts Centre artistic producer Donna Spencer said in a news release. “MOI is one of those powerful works.

“Shay began his exploration of isolation and loneliness at the 2020 Dancing on the Edge Festival when the world was in the early stages of pandemic lockdown and the festival was presented online,” she continued. “His combination of digital and powerful physical movement allows us to feel how that loss of touch continues to affect us.”

Momentum of Isolation
Shay Kuebler read a memoir about solitary confinement as part of his research. Photo by Emilie Bland.

Isolation in prison

Each dancer researched loneliness to provide their own perspective. For his part, Kuebler felt inspired by Albert Woodfox autobiography Solitary. The former Black Panther party member’s memoir chronicled his four decades in solitary confinement.

According to Amnesty International, Woodfox was the longest-serving solitary prisoner in the U.S. As part of his punishment, officials confined him to a six-foot-by-nine-foot cell in Louisiana’s Angola Prison following the murder of a prison guard. Ultimately, Woodfox was acquitted of committing the crime after three trials.

“My character, specifically, has a very clear through line, and that’s really important,” Kuebler told the Georgia Straight in 2021. “I think it helps bookend…these episodes in the work.”

Like Kuebler’s other works, MOI – Momentum of Isolation includes some humour. However, he emphasized back in 2021 that it’s not a comedy show.

Watch a trailer for MOI – Momentum of Isolation.

Event details

The Firehall Arts Centre presents Shay Kuebler’s MOI – Momentum of Isolation. It runs from Wednesday (March 6) to Saturday (March 9) at the Firehall Arts Centre. For tickets and more information, visit the Firehall Arts Centre website or call 604-689-0926. Radical System Art will also perform it this month in Nelson, Vernon, and Oliver, as well as on Salt Spring Island and in  Edmonds, Washington. For tickets and more information, visit the Radical System Art website.

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Charlie Smith

Pancouver editor Charlie Smith has worked as a Vancouver journalist in print, radio, and television for more than three decades.

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We would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. With this acknowledgement, we thank the Indigenous peoples who still live on and care for this land.