May 8 & 9, 1997. The Gordon Best Theatre, Peterborough, Ontario. Presented by SCAG in association with Peterborough New Dance (now Public Energy).
The media release for this ground breaking, or rather bone-crushing, dance work - Peterborough's dance and theatre scene had not seen anything like it before and really has not since - said this: "Based on a short story by Patrick Walsh, Pent is an explosive rendition of a dysfunctional family, exploring their dynamics through dance and music. Each of five dancers is matched up with one of five guitarists, lending each character in Pent a distinct musical voice. The result is electric, as the inner conflicts of five family members are exposed through a hard core, fast paced, body bruising style of dance and music that will leave audience members gasping - and thinking." And, the release might have added, potentially neck breaking, in the case of Dy Gallagher's fall at 3:26. But nothing phased her (or any of these dancers), as can be seen in our favourite move: telling an audience member where to go after he walks right through the action at 3:01. Kudos to videographer Brian Mitolo for catching all the action.
The Pent dancers are: Stephanie Corrin, Dy Gallagher, scooter (aka Wes Ryan), Ryan Kerr and Peter Ens as the father. The guitarists are Wyatt Burton, Parijata Charbonneau, John MacEwen, Tom Reader and Mark Rogers. All performers took part in creating the choreography, while Tom Reader was musical director, and the writer, Patrick Walsh, handled directing duties for what was a remount of the work.
The 30-minute Pent had first been presented in August, 1996, with Stephanie Corrin as the director, in what was essentially a construction site above the Only Café at 216 Hunter St W in downtown Peterborough. The adventurous owners of the Only - Jerome and Charon Ackhurst - had begun renovations to turn the upper floors of the building into a cozy theatre but could not wait for the work to finish to start using it. Pent was the third live performance to take place during the construction. And 8 months later, with the renovations complete, Pent was mounted again as the very first full production in the new Gordon Best Theatre.
SCAG (the Serious Contact Artists' Group, founded by Dy Gallagher and Stephanie Corrin) was a collection of Peterborough dancers who took the latest advances in dance they'd learned from visiting artists from Montreal and Toronto - Tammy Forsythe's punk esthetic, Allen and Karen Kaeja's contact dance - and made it their own. The live collaboration with musicians - each dancer had his/her own guitar player with their own sound - was brilliantly, uniquely, their own made-in-Peterborough idea.