I watched this performance which was by a renowned contemporary group, techno musician and special guest. Brexit was a current parliamentary topic. I took notes at the time and it is from these that I base this post.
Topic relating to elections, parliamentary matters and the publics response to them rarely remain fixed. I found the theme for this piece intriguing not because I am interested in politics but because initially I felt it only was current within the moment.
Actually the dance show could have been performed for the US election and would have made a similar if not more powerful statement about government matters.
Although the statement of this show was clear (at the end!), the actual storyline was not. In truth, most of the audience left the theatre mumbling that they had no idea what was going on. The message was that politicians have no idea what is going on in the world and I believe the audiences perplexed reaction meant they/we had no idea either.
Anyway, if I’m honest I was not there for the story, I was there for the dancing and some music that was not drum beats.
The performance began with………drum beats!! Yey!
Then some male African dancers with bare chests. The dancers were extremely well trained and as my new friend stated ‘well fit’. We both felt the dance was disturbing. The movements were like a pre-war attack resembling of a Hacka in rugby. The dancers wearing only baggy trousers continuously faced the back as though showing off their torso to the audience. I noted this distanced them from the audience and prevented an interaction that would allow the audience to engage with the performers. The 3 male dancers made hissing and gaggling noises. Their movements were aggressive, the body positions in second position plie awkward and dark lighting meant only the torsos were clear. The dancers seemed to stamp in anger then face away again and they made triple beats in a irregular fast rhythm with their feet. In totality this created distance with the audience and as I panned the audience their body language showed they all detected it. There was no grace elegance or flow and seemingly no clear point or purpose. I began watching the muscle shapes on their backs and comparing the torso lengths in proportion to their height. I would then try to readdress my digression and focus on the choreography. The length of this sequence was long. Too long, if I’m brutally honest. Though I admired the stamina of the dancers. 10 minutes till the end of part 1. One of the dancers stands behind a ministers podium. He is mixing music, heavy techno. The audience are like…what!!! We are waiting for the dancers to return, they did not. The central dancer-musician has put on a suit jacket and we are aware that he has changed in role from an attacking Zulu warrior to a business man. The trance music is not my thing but I do follow the skill of the musician and recognise the rhythm combinations and beats are difficult to achieve, even with a mixing desk. He ends with voice over words which he plays on a loop as his presence commands the audiences attention and he plays the last loop as he walks off stage. Entire audience are like ‘Whaaat’. What was all that supposed to represent?
We start with the voice over we just left. Where there is trans apparently young Brexiters follow. I’m thinking deprived part of Glasgow on a Saturday night when the pubs just shut. 4 white dancers entre. One Scottish (He had the saltire round his shoulders), who is in charge. They are running randomly about playing to the audience. Pointing and running in a direct pathway. There is a dancer representing each of the sections of the UK but it is the Scottish one who is holding the audiences attention, with cheeky movements, eye contact and signals to encourage the audience to clap. Dancers from all 4 countries complete a little hip hop routine which obviously warrants a clap from the audience. Not because it is good but because they have actually done something. They lark about a bit more and identify some poor girl from the audience who is now trying to hide. She comes up on stage but is less than relaxed. The dancers jump about like they were at a rave and it looks as though the girl is part of their antics despite her standing awkwardly in the centre. In reflection, I think this showed perfectly how it is easy to appear sucked into a group.
And now for the link to Brexit/Trump election. A projection of the musician playing the decs is crossed with what looks and sounds like a politician broadcast. The broadcast and the dancers goes randomly off with numerous projections shown and dancers running about like they are trying to see them all and copy parts of them. It seemed the dancers did not know what to do. The projections and their segmented parts directing the movement and the dancers involved. At the end, there was a twisted shape made by all of the UK dancers who then separated out and left the stage in a spider web type shape.
There was no set or particular lighting in this whole performance. The first half was very dark and the second half a little better so we could see the dancers more clearly.
What was the message?
Was dance quality the focus of this performance?
The male dancers at the start had plenty technique, but their work was difficult to watch. The second group were poor at technique and but had loads of performance. The rhythms of the music from the politician seemed to link them.
Was the theme of Brexit/Trump the focus of this performance?
Initially, the theme in the first half had everything quite awkward but proceeding technically correct manner then the politician operated the music which everyone (including the audience) danced to before the second half dancers separated into the UK with different sections which had no independent purpose and were all trying to get attention.
It just be that there were two separate parts with music in the middle.
I looked at my friend, who said at the end of the performance ‘What was that all about?’ I could not have put it better myself.