Review Out Of The System:Mixed Bill, Dance Umbrella by Tanica Psalmist

Out Of The System :‘MIXED BILL’ curated by Dance Umbrella, featured guest programme ‘Freddie Opoku; in partnership with Bernie Grant Art Centre & Systems LAB. Out from this showcase stemmed acts who brought more than just multi-disciplined, deeply conscious and lucrative art.

All pieces structurally provided visual content that were richly infused with innovation & culture. This was exceptionally recognised during the first act of the evening, ‘Fragility in Man’ by dancer Theo Inart. His unique segment poured vulnerability on stage. A one man show featuring live looping, un-dressing, mental channelling & emotional battling through movement & sound-making. Each movement foretold his insanity as a man looking sane, meanwhile each sound enchanted torment from the infliction of oppression within society as a man.

Next on ‘Exhibit F’ by Becky Namgaud. Her piece was the most abstract out of the other pieces showcased, to the point you would’ve needed to pick her brain to find meaning within the intensity of her choreography & low lit to dark mood lighting choice. Becky’s performance grasped attention being the only act who was nude, top half of her body. Becky incorporated sounds of running water & stayed levelled on the ground in her piece infusing ambience sounds which I struggled to find the correlation with to match her theme. However, in spite of this I’d describe this piece as deeply metaphorical, original & innovative with complex moves combined with contemporary & Capoeira style of dance. I perceived this piece may have been more personal, explaining why it wasn’t self-explanatory to members of the audience. This gave Becky’s presence power & bravery, as she interestingly also had a lot of repetition throughout.

Followed on from Becky’s piece was a duet act, ‘Beyond Words’ performed by FFion Camberwell Davis & Tyrone Issac Stewart. Ffion first appeared on stage wearing lingerie, whilst Tyrone appeared in boxers; circulating a lot of their movement at the beginning on balance by firmly climbing, gripping & stepping on to one another weary of their surroundings. As their piece built more momentum both acts started exploiting various episodes of their unique individuality through phases of facing judgment, living in a world where your made to feel uncomfortable when in reality feeling comfortable with yourself. To portray their multifaceted mindsets they’d transitioned to a volume of costume changes on set, emphasising through spoken-word that external factors don’t define them but helps in finding their purpose to re-connect deeply to their roots. The incorporation of spoken word for me was distinctive, as it helped exclaim the powerful discovery of two individuals dressing down to reflect the value found in being at one as a collective amongst people with different tribal history.

Lastly, Jonzi D presented his piece ‘Aeroplane Man’, which personally blew me away! His piece was a perfect way to end the showcase as he took the audience on a never-ending, mental plane journey bringing nothing but himself. Energetically jogging on one spot as he physically, mentally, emotionally & spiritually ran his way to regions where respect & acceptance from his ethnic heritage, indigenous people were expected. However, ironically we’d witnessed his robust character repeatedly facing rejection and humiliation instead. Confused, saddened but determined not to give up, he remained hopeful of finding unity, validation, identity & belonging in countries where his people had his interest at heart & wouldn’t see him as a fabricated, disillusioned wannabe, despite being unable to speak his mothers tongue or know & understand his African tribe fully. ‘Aeroplane Man’ is a story told through the lens of relatable periods in life, experienced when being of African descent, raised within another culture who have difficulty accepting you due to your race. A man birthed from West Indian parents who came to England during the Windsrush, migrated & have no recollection of home other than their current place of residence. Themes in this piece were propaganda, racism, belonging & adaptation.

All artists focused on abstract ways of grouping their political, emotional views on factors that surround society. All pieces embodied rich characterisation and were well thought through in terms of their mis-en-scene choices. The following artists FFion Camberwell Davis, Tyrone Issac Stewart, Becky – Namgauds, Miguel-Altunaga & Florian- Peus demonstrated effective, triumphed work they should each be proud of.  



Choreography Theo TJ Lowe
Art Direction Theo TJ Lowe
Sound Collaborators Louis Van Johnson, Sabio Janiak
Voice Work Theo TJ Lowe
Performer Theo TJ Lowe

Choreographed and performed by Becky Namguads
Additional Direction Marso Riviere
Music Yael Claire Shahmoon
Producer Amy Sheppard

Curated by DU Guest Programmer Freddie Opoku-Addaie
A Dance Umbrella production
Presented in partnership with Bernie Grants Arts Centre

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