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Turning Grief Into Art


Turning Grief Into Art

Some experiences are so disturbing that there are no words for them – and that’s where dance steps in. This is the case with Betroffenheit, a theatre/dance hybrid created by two of Canada’s most celebrated companies: Kidd Pivot + Electric Company Theatre, coming to the Royal Theatre in March.

Simply translated, the German word Betroffenheit describes the shock or bewilderment that often follows in the wake of a violent or distressing event, a sense of being in a liminal space that is timeless, yet directional.

The work is a collaboration between playwright/actor Jonathon Young and choreographer Crystal Pite, and portrays Young as a man at the mercy of his own tortured mind. It was inspired by the tragic death of Young’s daughter and two nieces in a 2009 cabin fire. His character is the first to arrive at the scene of the accident, but is too late to save the victims. Touching on themes of loss, grief, guilt, and addiction, Betroffenheit explores the tension between inertia (not being able to move forward) and passage (finding the strength to move forward), and reveals the way that memory can become like a prison, torturing its victims to relive past moments over and over, long after they have occurred.

Young is the only voice heard onstage, both live and recorded, urging him to move on and come to terms with the past. He is a very physical actor who expresses his story and character through his body in a deeply moving way, dancing with five other Kidd Pivot dancers who become different forms of his psyche that tease and bully him.

Betroffenheit was performed to sold-out audiences in Toronto and recently made the Top 5 Toronto Shows of 2015. Martha Schabas of The Globe and Mail called it “rare and staggering… a harrowing representation of trauma and suffering – but it’s also a stunning testament to what can be made when life undergoes a pretty strange and irreducible process – when it’s turned into art.”

The show will be coming to Victoria’s Royal Theatre for two nights – March 11 and 12th, 2016.

Visit for more information.

Betroffenheit small

Photo: Jonathan Young, Cindy Salgado, Jermaine Spivey, David Raymond, Tiffany Tregarthen, Bryan Arias in Betroffenheit. Photo: Wendy D. Photography.


Kidd Pivot + Electric Company Theatre


March 11 + 12 • 7:30 pm

Royal Theatre

Box Office: 250-386-6121


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