Abilities Arts Festival presents MIRAGE at Scotiabank Nuit Blanche

Theatre Direct, 601 Christie Street, Toronto
October 2nd, 2010 – Sunset to Sunrise

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“Mirage” is an Igneous collaborative work that plays on perceptual illusion and explores phantom-limb sensation as a “mirage.”

It is a performance installation with movement-based performance, video art, sound art, and a series of mirror booths. It is an interactive labyrinth of mirrors and a solo performance piece in a reflective pool amongst multi-dimensional projections. It plays on perceptual illusion, the construction of hybrid forms and the real and virtual fusing and separating.

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NOW MAGAZINE: “Mirage, was sensational. Australian dancer James Cunningham, whose left arm is withered, put on a spectacular movement performance, accompanied by compelling electronic music.

BlogTO: “My favorite for the night. While we were watching the performance, I said to my friend, “This feels like the first art I’ve seen tonight.” The performance involved two stages. In the first, you were encouraged to engage with three mirror-based perceptual illusions that centred on ideas of symmetry and identity. All of them were genuinely startling and surprising.

James Cunningham almost totally paralyzed his left arm in 1992. In his research about pain relief, he found a particular experiment immensely profound: the “mirror-box”, designed by neuro-psychologist Dr Vilayanur Ramachandran, director of the Centre for Brain Cognition at the University of California – San Diego, used to alleviate amputees of phantom-limb pain.

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Observing the movement of his intact arm reflected in a mirror, it was as if James could suddenly feel his paralysed arm moving again, along with perceived weight, joint articulation and position in space. A bizarre experience when one knew that in fact the immobile arm was lying flat on the table. Wanting to share this discovery with others – for them to gain a first-hand experience of the illusory nature of perception, the “mirage” of the mind – and to develop a choreography driven by the actual movement possibilities of his partially-paralysed limb, which necessitates the rest of his body to creatively “serve” and thereby integrateits quirky, subtle, and loosely swung movements, he, along with Suzon Fuks, began formulating the project MIRAGE.

The work spans two spaces. In the WHITE SPACE audience members experiment with and challenge their perception with five mirror-booths. The BLACK SPACE sees Cunningham perform in the shallow water environment, with a unique style of movement that integrates a partially paralysed arm, exploring anabstract narrative, through a range of atmospheres and feelings.

For more details about the 2010 event visit: https://nbto.com/.
Scotiabank Nuit Blanche is a signature event produced by the City of Toronto.