Dance. In a space I didn’t know existed. I am not proud of this fact. I am not proud that I know embarrassingly little about dance too.
We are met at the door by Paul Kaynes and his team and they welcome us with huge smiles and enthusiasm. Everyone chats and enjoys the view over Cardiff Bay from the rooftop of this marvellous building. We are given an introduction to the evening and invited in to the auditorium.
The seats are packed with colour and youth. I become slightly obsessed with wanting to swap this audience with that grey-haired one at the Cathedral earlier in the week. And as the evening progresses, I want to do this more and more. I want the opera lovers to be here, with me, sharing this beautiful experience. Oh to pull it all together somehow!
I confess, I don’t read programmes before I see something. I don’t want to be influenced. I want it to speak to me and me alone. This is about Voice, after all.
It begins with a woman and a man dancing to what feels like Eighties rave music with strobes and UV and hoops and planets and they tell a little love story through dance and gymnastics and ballet and they are so beautiful, just so beautiful. Luminously lovely. And I want to be Degas – I want to capture their shapes somehow. It is not enough to watch them.
Darkness. A spotlight. A man dances through a series of emotions and I feel I am watching his collapse into sadness. He makes me think of the loneliness of communication – the struggle to be understood. It is a deeply moving performance. I am relieved when finally he stands in the centre of the light.
A woman prowls onto the stage. She talks to us through her movements and I am desperate to interpret them. The music is sweeping and classical and it is all very pretty and acceptable and then it changes in a moment, it swells to panther proportions and I am watching a wild animal and the movements become the language of the wolf. Her body is not her own – she is absorbed in her passions and she is perfect in her credibility.
And then we break.
And I sit with Daniella. A student of dance. She looks me straight in the eye and tells me how wonderful it all is, how all she has ever done is dance, she has danced since she was a little child, it is who she is. She is enraptured by the second piece but she has loved it all. In her face I see that the gift of dance is a good one. There is such power in using dance to communicate – no-one else’s story, just your own; no tool as messenger, just your thoughts sent out there through your body.
It feels so loose, so uncontrolled, so unrepeatable. What an ability these people have and what a task to choreograph and to make it seem so easy every time!
We are asked to stand around the stage. It is a big space but we are shoulder to shoulder forming a square around a Crossword of 4 dancers. Each performs within a square, a battenburg cake of dance. Singly, together, this is an argument, a joke, a party, a series of opinions agreeing and clashing. I want to see it from above, see the patterns they make. It is gorgeous to watch and to be so close. I can see that I am not alone in wanting to join in – we all want to be part of it, to be understood.
We return to our seats. What now? Well. We get more cake, we get Nigella. We get a menopausal woman breaking the bonds of housewifery – as well as a few eggs! It is quite the most unusual performance I have ever seen and it is brilliant. I laugh! It is me!
I chat to others as we leave – what did you think of that last one? Oh yes, I do that – well, I want to do that…
I have loved it. Every minute of it. It has been challenging, beautiful, sad and funny. A novel in dance. And I still want to swap those audiences – bring those different voices together somehow and we will all be the wiser for it.
Event: Alternate Routes
At: National Dance Company Wales
Production: WMC, RWCMD & National Dance Company Wales for Festival of Voice
Artistic Director: Caroline Finn
Choreographers: Matteo Marfoglia, Camille Giraudeau and Josef Perou
Chief Exec: Paul Kaynes
Seen: 6.45pm, 9th June, 2016
Reviewer: Helen Joy for 3rd Act Critics
Running: 09 Jun – 11 Jun 2016
Star rating: 4