Category Archives: Dance

Review Caitlin by Elin Williams

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Credit Warren Orchard

Light, Ladd & Emberton’s  production simply entitled ‘Caitlin’ was commissioned by the National Library of Wales as part of this year’s centenary celebration of Dylan Thomas’ birth. Directed by Deborah Lightand devised and performed by Eddie Ladd and Gwyn Emberton, the piece explores the life of the often overlooked wife of the famous poet through movement.

The audience is invited into the studio. There are chairs set up in a circle, representative of an AA meeting. Ladd sits with us and introduces herself as Caitlin, an alcoholic. She then launches into an energetic one hour performance which explores the trials and tribulations of Mrs Thomas.

The piece is punctuated by small chunks of dialogue; sentences such as “My husband was a very famous poet” are repeated over and over. Caitlin often lived in the shadow of her husband, and so this repetition serves well to emphasise this. Her husband’s success must have, at times, infuriated her. She tells us that she “was going to be a famous dancer”, but as the audience is aware, this never happened and only adds to the poignancy of her character.

Emberton stands on a chair, hand in pocket in that iconic Thomas pose, rotating and puffing out hot air as Caitlin watches from below. She tells us that she had three babies, although it felt like four as her husband was a ‘professional baby’. Ladd and Emberton cleverly use chairs to represent highchairs in order to communicate this message.

The movement ranges from loving, playful embraces to frantic, violent encounters, representative of the nature of the Thomas’ relationship. Ladd tells us of her affairs, of Dylan’s affairs and combines these pieces of dialogue with sensual movement.

Chairs are used most creatively to illustrate a number of different things, from a highchair to a straight-jacket, a pushchair to a bed. Music from Sion Orgon compliments the piece beautifully and works well to dictate the pace of the piece.

One of the most difficult things to do with a piece of movement theatre is to effectively communicate a narrative, but Ladd, Emberton and Light do this expertly. Some sections are perhaps slightly ambiguous, but this only helps to provoke the audience into questioning what it could potentially mean. A truly fantastic piece which gives a rare insight into the life of Caitlin Thomas.

 

Review John DV8 National Theatre, London by Hannah Goslin

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Photo (Hannes Langolf) by Hugo Glendinning

‘For nearly thirty years, Lloyd Newson’s DV8 Physical Theatre has produced original and challenging dance theatre unafraid to push audiences out of their comfort zone’

During my performance training from the age of 15, I was introduced and inspired by DV8’s work. Thirty years of bringing thoughtful and impacting theatre into the forefront of audience’s minds. After seeing ‘Can We Talk About This?’ in Truro a few years ago, knowingly, DV8 brings a great approach to discussions that can be taboo, or if beginning to be spoken more about, still laid bare, and this has always had an amazing impact on me.

John was no exception. A simple rotating staging was easily turned into several different locations with little change; just the addition of occasional props. The performance was about the story of John, not stage and lighting trickery and attempt to astonish audiences in this way.

John’s life was from verbatim – a production based on a solo interview with a normal human being and how his turbulent life from childhood to his present shaped who he was, what he wanted and despite a possible more negative life compared to some, something relatable … wanting someone to love and love us.

A combination of physicality and spoken word caught the eye and ear of every audience member. A pin could be heard within the theatre as John’s story of the horrors he had experienced and the life he was entering were laid in front of us, with no fear or cover of the truth. For some, this blunt-ness of the taboo subjects may have been much to handle, with, at times, comedy with topics that could make the strongest person cringe but what would DV8 be without this?

The versatility and fluidity of the performers brought interesting scope to the spoken word ; each one was astonishingly capable of beautiful movement and never took away from the intent of their words. How their ability to contort themselves and move in such a way and still easily and with steady breath speak their lines was inspiring. And ensuring that their words still gave as much meaning as the movement, left myself in tears of awe and from the impact of the story.

DV8, as usual have brought a fantastic and must see performance into the public eye. It is almost impossible to come away without a feeling of elation at seeing theatre at its best.

Review Caitlin, Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff by Barbara Michaels

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Credit Warren Orchard

Choreography: Deborah Light, Eddie Ladd and Gwyn Emberton

Director: Deborah Light

Caitlin; Eddie Ladd

Dylan: Gwyn Emberton

Reviewer: Barbara Michaels

Rating: [3.5]

Based on the writing of Caitlin, the wife of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, this dance production tells of her life with the poet through the medium of a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous which she started to attend some twenty years after his death. Similar in style that of the one-woman show performed at the Sherman Theatre in 2003, it could equally have been named ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy.’

Caitlin’s recognition of the destruction wrought upon her life is portrayed in a series of dance moves, many of them violent in the extreme. In focussing on the turbulences of the Dylan marriage, director choreographer Deborah Light adheres closely to Caitlin’s own perception of her alcoholism and her life. The athleticism and technical skills of Eddie Ladd as Caitlin are showcased brilliantly, although there is a tendency to over- use of repetition, which can be tedious at times. One thinks of Ladd as a dancer but Light also allows her to speak, albeit briefly. Her speaking voice enthrals as much as her dance technique and makes a considerable contribution to Ladd’s characterisation. Her reiteration at intervals throughout that, while Dylan was a poet, “I could have been a dancer” adds poignancy to the overall projection of chaos, with dancers and furniture crashing around the stage for much of the time.

Ladd’s boundless energy is phenomenal, as is that of Gwyn Emberton, as Dylan. Many of Emberton’s dance moves require him to roll around the floor or balance precariously on a pyramid of stacked tubular and plastic chairs that teeter ominously. The said chairs are an integral part of the production, being used by the dancers use not only to represent actual objects – a baby’s pushchair, for instance – but also mood. There is no set, and these are the only props, barring a paperback book and four glasses of water with sweets in. Seated on some twenty chairs of the same ilk are the remainder of the cast (actually the audience), representing the members of the AA meeting which Caitlin is addressing.

In the year which marks the centenary of Dylan Thomas’s birth and the 60th anniversary of the iconic Under Milk Wood, it was inevitable that all aspects of his life would be explored in theatrical performances both nation and world-wide. His lifelong battle with alcoholism has been well documented; that of his wife Caitlin possibly less well so, In portraying this, and showing that while in some aspects it bound them together, Light’s production shows how eventually it destroyed not only their marriage but both of them.

Runs at Chapter for two more performance: Thursday October 30th at 6.30 and 8.30

Performances on Mon 3 + Tue 4 Nov at Volcano, The Iceland Building, 27-31 High Street, Swansea.

 

Review Bianco No Fit State Circus

No Fit State Circus perform Bianco at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. ©Richard Davenport 13

 

Photograph credit R Davenport.

Bianco’, performed by ‘No Fit State Circus’ was the last show I went to see at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I left the circus tent shaking in awe. When a performance has given you a lump in your throat that makes it hard to even cheer or clap, you know they have done well. Every section beautifully designed that was enhanced by the power of the live band.

There were no individual stars but an ensemble of talented performers, each bringing their own expertise to the stage. Even though this was a stereotypical contemporary circus show, they brought so much emotion to the way they performed that it stood out from any other circus acts. The music and the lyrics especially helped create this emotion and made mini-narratives for each section. There were moments in this show where I felt I’d left reality behind and stepped into a dream. It was aesthetically pleasing in every sense that I couldn’t believe it was happening before me. I never wanted it end. What was more interesting is that I felt like I was part of the production myself. The constant change of positions to re-arrange the performance space made it become even more immersive. Sometimes it took away from the essence of fantasy, yet it was necessary.

It was evident that every aspect of the show was well thought out and infused with professionalism. Every person so physically fit it was inspiring to watch. Overall ‘No Fit State Circus’ is heightened with pure talent, innovative imagery and a set to be admired at. Step into this tent and leave reality behind.

Review Llais/Voice, Cynyrchiadau Pluen / Flake Productions by Kaitlin Wray

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Llais/Voice

Cynyrchiadau Pluen / Flake Productions

Llais/Voice, A perfect example where music and performance complement each other completely. Elgan Rhys devised this piece based around Amanda Todd’s YouTube video, where she uses placards to tell her story of bullying and depression. Without the use of spoken word, Llais/Voice incorporates dance, multimedia and live music to express Elgan’s own past experiences. This performance was cleverly constructed and pulled on my heart strings. His passion captivated the audience and immersed us into how growing up is probably one of the hardest things to do.

As I’m a lover of live music in shows, Llais/Voice was a perfect show for me. Josh Bowles accompanied Elgan with music that made the performance all the more beautifully striking. His talent for composing and his high level of musical ability made this show elevate its professionalism.

The maturity and elegance Llais/Voice had makes it a wonder that they are just a young company. One thing I would have liked to see was the beginning to be just as insightful as the rest. It took time to get into the body of the work, yet it was well worth the wait. The progression kept going until I was spellbound. Llais/Voice is a must see if you want to see beauty from pain.

Review Last Chance Romance, Kitsch & Sync Collective by Kaitlin Wray

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This fun-filled 50’s themed extravaganza was just what I needed to top off my first night at the Edinburgh Festival.

Three stunning girls,  dressed up in typical 50’s clothes infused dancing with comedy, singing and love booths. The audience interaction, though highly entertaining I felt got a bit over the top at parts although it did leave most of the audience in stitches. The girls kept their charismatic roles throughout while being accompanied by carefully picked songs that went perfectly with the action on stage. One thing that would enhance this performance was a more in depth story line, a carefully structured plot that would capture the audience even more. However it was a lovely night of light hearted fun, an informal space where you could be as chilled as you want.

If you’re looking for love or just a bit of classic fun then this show is a must see.

Wales Dance Platform a short response from 3rd Age Critic Barbara Michaels

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Wales Dance Platform –A Valuable Contribution to the Contemporary Dance Scene in Wales.

A week-long programme of contemporary dance in venues across Cardiff which included the Glanfa stage at the Wales Millennium Centre drew audiences from all over the country and nationwide.   Independent dance artists presented innovative ideas in choreography, film and photography.

One of the major highlights of a talent-filled week took place on the final Sunday when four independent dance companies performed on stage at the Sherman Theatre. Among these was internationally known Ballet Nimba, from Guinea. Idrissa Camara and Oumar Almamy Camara gave a mesmerising and energised performance, leaping around the stage in what appeared to be manic but was in fact perfectly controlled yet acrobatic dance representing masculine identity and the age-old battle for dominance between father and son while reflecting the uncertainties of the social and political scene. Those old enough to recall the visit to the UK from South Africa in 1974 of the show Ipi Tombi, a pastiche of a variety of South African indigenous musical styles which caused some controversy among critics at that time, will have noted similarities. Ballet Nimba deserves an accolade for the way in which the traditional urban and village roots of the dance is retained alongside modern dance moves and stylistics.

At the conclusion of the Platform a £1,000 award for “The most innovative and eye-catching work” an award was presented to Gwyn Emberton for his ‘The Devil in Eden’, a duet taken from his work My People, based on the book by Caradoc Evans.

Barbara Michaels

Review Wales Dance Platform by Young Critic Hannah Goslin

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Wales Dance Platform

Day 1

Wales Millennium Centre

27/06/14

The Wales Millennium Centre was the main setting for the launch of the Wales Dance Platform 2014. The Platform aimed to showcase those in the Welsh dance world, with a variety of ideas, approaches, techniques, medias and many more. Some featured work in solo, duets and ensembles and some featured were even in the media of film and photography.

In the decreasing light of the Bay, we began with an invitation to watch a children’s based slapstick comedy by Lisa Spaull. The Glanfa, which is the open area of the WMC, provides opportunities for many performances day in and day out and was a lovely area to invite many of the public to see this free exhibition. The slapstick dance not only showcased the dance techniques of this duet but also evoked giggles from the children in the audience, beginning a lovely start to the weekend.

The weekend in the WMC continued its showcase with two sessions of 10-15 minute performances in the Western Studio. They all ranged and were extremely different, although some professed the same skills from contemporary training. The studio was a multifunctioning space and so allowed the performers to utilise it to their needs. Each time this successfully gave the feeling of a new show. An example of this was a change of almost proscenium styled viewing from Cai Tomos, to a half circle opposite one another for Lucy May Constantini.

The different medias used such as film, voice and music whether this be recorded or live, drawing in Merega Palser’s piece with salt and the use of glitter and lard in Gareth Chamber’s unordinary performance also gave a variety to the evening. Gareth Chambers, especially, ended the night on an unusual high with his performance showing an extreme of vulnerability through balance on lard and baring his skin to us. This main shocking performance, I felt, gave the night as a whole a lot of food for thought. Each piece professed its own views on areas of life and ensured that we as the audience were well prepared for the weekend ahead with diving straight into the deep end of modern-day dance.

Finally, to note, as mentioned before, the use of different medias made this beginning something to remember. We forget that the beauty of dance isn’t just in the performance but that it can be documented in many other ways. James Williams, who also treated us to dance in Chapter on the Saturday gave a photography exhibition of dancers in Nest Project. The photographs were stunning, showing the anatomy and muscle definition of fully fledged dancers. The impressive highlight caused not only jealousy of the ordinary person but inspired and gave a sense of awe at how hard these professionals work, exhibited in their bodies. The most powerful photographs were with the intense stares of certain dancers in the moment. They professed concentration in their work but a sense of voyeurism, as if we had interrupted into the rehearsal and movement of these dancers.

Day 1 had easily prepared us for the weekend and excitement for what we had yet to see.

Wales Dance Platform

Day 2

Chapter Arts Centre

28/06/14

After the exciting and varied pool that we were involved in on the first day, the excitement of day two of the Wales Dance Platform in Chapter Arts Centre was almost something to not contain. This unordinary centre, with its bohemian feel, seemed like a perfect place for work that was experimental and full of impressions to be made.

Such as the first night, this weekend was not going to be just about dance performances. Creative producer of the Wales Dance Platform, Roy Cambell-Moore exhibited his beautiful photographs of dancers in India which showcased on screens in the foyer. These were colourful and vibrant and such as the photographs from the previous night, exhibited the core of dance and dancers.

Following this different medium, a showcase of films which ranged from documentarian pieces from African dance which was full of energy and a different feel to the dance we are used to in our own country, to rehearsal pieces from Aleksandra Jones and her work with pregnant women which also gave a new view to dance with people we at times think are vulnerable with movement in their different state. Even this small series of film showed us that dance is so diverse and can be so beautiful and admirable in many different ways.

Chapter’s versatility as a venue was helpful to the weekend. This not only helped the rehearsal of performers but also with the change for the performances. We entered the loft space for a small and informal talk for performers about touring, self promotion, relationships with producers and much more which was extremely informative and helpful, especially as a freelance performance myself. The Stwdio then showcased a beautiful piece which illustrated the strong bodies of dancers and their ability of restraint with small movements over a long amount of time. This was inspiring and somehow captivating to watch despite the little amount of movement. It showed that even silence and stillness is just as powerful as consistent movement. The bar area was used for Jukebox collective’s work with hip hop and modern chart music. This, I felt added something special to the weekend. It was a definite change-up from the weekend and punctured some fun, light-hearted entertainment.

Again, we were welcomed to a thought-provoking and impressionable piece by Gareth Clark (Mr and Mrs Clark) with Smash It Up. This thought-provoking and culturally poignant piece showcased the brilliance that are the Clarks, and how they are little afraid to challenge the status quo. Comical moments were also implemented, as is their style with spoken word in contrast to the movement, pin pointing facts in quotation form that all performers and even other audience members can relate to.

A lovely addition to this weekend, however a small piece in comparison to the eclectic entertainment on offer was the taster to reflexology. As a dancer previously, the reflexologist had trained after retiring and so this seemed a lovely way for dancer’s to relax, especially with being notorious for problems with their feet. This nice addition added to the feeling of a luxurious weekend after the privilege of the entertainment on offer .

Wales Dance Platform

Day 3

Sherman Cymru

29/06/14

The finale of the Wales Dance Platform ended in the lovely setting of the Sherman. Well known for its inviting family atmosphere as well as it’s occasional adult openness, it seemed relevant that there was a high involvement of family dance.

Before this, we began the day in a series of discussions. The Artists and organisers critically evaluated the weekend from their perspectives, while myself and other critics and professionals discussed the Welsh critical state. This eye-opening and educational talk made an extreme impact on me, realising the difficulties that the arts world, while continuing striving in Wales, is struggling for journalism about such creative activities. It was lovely to meet such like-minded people and to hear their points of view and eagerness in the arts field.

Following from this, we entered into a promenade performance from the outside with a fun pirate and fun and excited girl who wanted to be a pirate, to the foyer where the rest of her toys lived. This dance was fun-filled and a lovely beginning to the day. We then continued into Theatre two with a lovely and audience relatable piece about a daughter and her father and the heart warming performance about their relationships. This provoked moments of memory with comedy, friendship and the father/daughter duo easily showed their close relationship through dance. The obvious nature of this also came from the evidence of dance education through the generations. This section of family fun showcased not only a difference in the dance world and its versatility to audiences, but attracted families to the venue, which seems an increasing importance to do in the creative world.

The second, and last series of showcases was more adult inclined but still was a possibility for families to attend as well, although not specifically catered for. Again, we saw a range of dance areas and the link with Chapter from the day before with the African dance. The energy was electric and consistent. I felt in complete awe about where they could possibly get the energy from. The change to live music and for it to not be of the conventional western style was a lovely change to many of the other pieces we saw. Perhaps more additions like this as well perhaps community based projects could have opened this weekend up and involved even more versatility. Despite the difference of work, many professed similar previous trainings and could at times feel very similar.

Overall the weekend was a fantastic success. A wonderful way to see the eclectic variety of dance in Wales as well as an interesting and informative weekend with networking and other additions. I feel very privileged that I was welcomed as part of this and thank all those involved. Dance in Wales is prominent and certainly needs more recognition through wonderful ventures such as Wales Dance Platform.

Review Dance Roads Open Process, Chapter Arts by Hannah Goslin

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Dance Roads Open Process

Chapter Arts Centre

Hannah Goslin

23/05/14

When I come to Chapter and get to see a performance in the Stiwdio, I am always excited by the versatility of this space and how interchangeable it is. Complimenting this space, Dance Roads Open Process showed us five different performances, all changing the Stiwdio.

Dance Roads is currently celebrating its 25th Birthday of a project supporting the development of performers from a range of countries. We get to see these shows, possibly ranging from raw experiments to almost perfected pieces, some performed by the Choreographers themselves, others directorial, and some a mixture of the two.

The first sight we see entering the space is what was reminiscent to me as the circuits one learns in school when learning about electricity. This circular area seemed bare and slightly concealed by very dark lighting, with only two technicians in the corner of the stage surrounded by wires and computers. The use of a very dim and almost harsh light revealed a wrapped body in the corner who begins to move. This grotesque movement with the use of a ruffled fabric was contorted into strange shapes, leaving an uneasy yet intrigued feeling. Eventually with the contortion ending, we welcome Canadian performer Sarah Bronsard who provides a really interesting piece with a relationship between her and the circuit, soon revealed to make noises such as a metronome. With mostly use of her arms and majority her legs and feet, she began to make beats with her tap shoes that seemed to command the circuit, making several levels of rhythm, such as a percussion band would. Her intensity in the relationship with these small mechanical beings was enticing and the combination of her erratic and quick movements and her eye contact with them made you unable to keep your eyes off the movement for a moment. The quickened pace lead you to believe that we would have a crescendo of chaos, however, this ended in a moment of serenity with more graceful and peaceful movements, the beating eradicated and the focus on a shining box in the corner. This was very effective after several minutes of such mesmerising movement.

Sarah was followed by a Italian Duet, choreographed and also performed by Andrea Gallo Rosso. The stage was cleared for a very minimalist piece, where our focus was purely on the two bodies in similar clothing. The relationship between these two men reminded me of a personal struggle –beginning by pushing one another, with graceful recoveries for a fight for the main centre place. It also seemed that, along with this, the difference in age (while not by much) of the performers could be seen as a younger and older self, also translated into the solo movements with the ‘younger’ self’s movements more erratic, risky and fast paced, as the others was slower, more graceful and careful. This contrast was very beautiful to watch; the dancers using a really good use of levels to draw the audience’s eye across the stage. The trust and clearly well practiced piece was very interesting to watch, especially with the performers never making eye contact with each other and very rarely use. The moments of collaboration needed both these elements and a sense of peripheral vision in order to catch each other and move as one. When eye contact was made with us, it was intense and very personal, bringing us into, what at times, was a very voyeuristic piece.

Another circular stage was set up with a set of torches. We welcomed Pauline Buenerd to the stage to show us a piece by French choreographer, Teilo Troncy. Out of the performances so far, this was the most unordinary. Buenerd moved her body in slow and unordinary images in one space to the sound of silence. For myself, this felt awkward. The pace created a sense of this show taking a long time to come to any fruition. Eventually the pace was quickened, music was involved and we soon realise that the abstract images of snapping her fingers and moving her head was to a jazz band song that was in her head only. The joy transferred onto her face at the knowledge that we could now also hear this, and this joy then became evident in her movement across the stage. With many repetitions of gestures, throwing herself on the floor and jumping in the air, it seemed that this joy was the fuel for her. This again, was uneasy to watch and I felt myself hoping that the piece would end soon. And so it did at the moment that she exhausted herself. If this was the point of the piece, then it was well constructed, however a lot felt as if it was improvised on the spot with no real narration of the purpose.

After a short intermission and change of set, we walk back in the Stiwdio which is once again transformed. Welsh choreographer Jo Fong had created a audience viewing the audience set up – with a camera image projected onto the back wall of the stage of us walking in and taking our seats, the audience participation was imminent with individuals waving at themselves and seeing the image facing them. The stage then consisted of 6 chairs with the two performers facing us. This began with an awkwardness from the performers, such as an audience would be, in a question and answer session after a show. Fong made a very clever piece using this idea; the status quo of the performers changing to then answering their own question of how they begin preparing for the piece through movement, trial and errors and critical evaluation of their selves. Their movements were meant to reminisce an uncertainty of performers, a nervousness and the mistakes made in solo and in duet rehearsals. These created very comical moments, allowing the audience to laugh and really hit home with us performers in the audience who have all felt this in preparation for a performance. Despite these awkward and nervous movements, the dancers were very engaging and still managed to show us elements that were well constructed despite the appearance of these feelings. Eventually, these all culminated in putting all these sequences together, with an element of the uncertainty still evident. Over all this well constructed comical piece, for me, was the highlight of the night.

Finally, our final piece was another male duet by Jasper Van Luijk, from the Netherlands. The stage was minimalist, but more expectant of what we would see from a contemporary dance piece – white floor and walls with a haze of colour to give substance. There was something similar to Rosso’s piece before- two male figures and their fight against one another with moments of collaboration. However, Luijk had made this more violent and for some jumpy audience members, hard to watch. We saw as beautiful contemporary movements soon lead to chaos and throwing the self of one dancers with large hits to the floor, eventually this stopping him in a still pile at the centre of the stage. The use of moveable lights were given to the other performer to highlight this crumpled image, leading to him providing graceful movements around the body . I felt that I lost concentration at times during this and perhaps leaving such a standard contemporary piece till the end was a wrong move after such an energetic and audience involving piece beforehand.

Review Motionhouse Broken – Seismic Performance in a Shifting World by Hannah Goslin

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Motionhouse

Broken – Seismic Performance in a Shifting World

Hannah Goslin

21/05/2014

Broken – When we think of the word broken, we can relate it to many different visions. Broken objects, breaks in aspect of nature, heart break, broken parts of our individual World, things that break these elements and breakages from our own impact.

Motionhouse’s Broken addresses these aspects including many many more. We begin with a pre-human World and almost the beginning of what we know. We travel through time to Earthly breakages as the surface of the World evolves; the impact of humanity discovering beneath the surface through mining excavations and the dangers of this and the heart break that comes with losing someone. This loss turns into hope, in the growth of trees and plants on the surface, penetrating the beneath and then the above atmosphere, with humanity’s discovery. We see cave man life, our struggle with (as the programme says) ‘our own shadows’, conscience and fears, soon landing us to a present day scenario, nature’s response to our modern ways of life and how easily these are broken.

Confronted with a very simple set consisting of two poles and a large screen, already showing an animation of lights and accompanied by a mixture of technological sounds, it seems that we are going to see a production purely based on the dancers’ moves. Oh how we are wrong. This large screen soon continues its animation to accompany the stage performance, showing animations of earthly images, setting scenes for the performance such as a typical house set up for the final scene and throwing us into the deep end at first with an energetic eclectic mix of nature and almost Sci Fi images and sound. The screen doubles up as a way for performers to come on to and away from the stage; implementing staging through the fabric folds for the performers to swing and propel themselves from, including ledges later on in the house scene that can be manoeuvred to different angles, leaving performers hanging from the edges. The inventive fabric screen become malleable yet extremely strong, allowing the performers to pull against and lean through. Simple, yet incredible, the screen becomes a number of different set pieces in one. The poles also bend at the swings of the performers, yet strong enough to carry all 6 of them at once. All of this accompanied by a mixture of cracking and breaking sounds to compliment the images moving on the screen and music, the performers easily adapt their movement without the need for a beat. Smaller additions such as a mattress and one of the ledges are taken away from the screen to project images onto which brought the focus forward, showing a more interesting range of levels.

The performers costumes stay simple yet effective for the timeline. With the use of mostly earthly colours, they bring a modern take on the naturalistic scenes they portray and such like the mattress and ledge, images are easily projected onto the fabric, encouraging the movement and animation to blend. This simplicity makes other aspects stand out, such as the beginning translucent and strong yet flexible ball that a lit up dressed female dancer is inside, contorting themselves and the ball into shapes which seem embryonic. This ‘leitmotif’ for stage recurs throughout as a symbol of hope – a guardian angel for those lost. This beautiful image not only comes from the costume, but the performers angelic and graceful movement.

With three female and three male performers, it’s difficult to differentiate ability. We are used to seeing dancers especially in areas such as ballet, with a clear male and female role. However, evident by the muscular physiques of these performers, all are capable of each other’s roles, supporting one another physically and emotionally and with obvious indicative feelings of trust to one another with falling, swinging and throwing one another around the stage and set. Motionhouse do this very well, with the ‘guardian angel’ characters mentioned before played by the female performers; their flexible and small frames at this point change the status quo of the company, showing the elegance and maternal figures that these characters are portraying. This works extremely well when the ‘miner’ characters try to escape, one too weak to free themselves, and the pain this angel feels with her struggle to help him to freedom. Admittedly, the use of movement, music, darker lighting and the emotion on these two dancers faces are heartbreaking and brought a tear to my eye. Such a true to life piece cannot always have happy endings. The performers showed their obvious hard work and dedication to the piece through their practice – the aforementioned screen showed animations that at times the performers had to know by heart to play with through the folds, such as cracks that moved with their own hands coming out and changes of horizontal poles in order for movement to cross the screen in mid air.

All these elements produced an awe inspiring piece where, looking around, not a single audience member was not encapsulated by. Moments such as the heart breaking moment of the miner not achieving his freedom produced sniffles of tears from others (not just myself) in the audience, audible in between the breaks of sound; the moment where a ledge is thrown down, almost crushing a performer as he swiftly slides out the way evoked a gasp of fear and all of this resulting in a standing ovation at the end. A piece that leaves you not only looking at reality from a different perspective, but inspiring dancers and performers a like to create such thought provoking theatre.