In the past week I have been to The Place to see Tavasiva, ACE, Retina and Stan Won't Dance. I also saw RADC at Forgettful Wells (re:Evil Imp), Went to Stratford Circus for their Twos A Company programme and tonight I went to Moving Arts Base to see The Improvisation Project, where amongst other things a film by Anna Ramsay was showing. I was actually in the film so that was pretty cool.
I also have another 12 shows booked for the next 9 weeks. I am clever at getting in fast and booking all of The Place's £5 tickets. If you get in early you can see some big companies for very cheap. I have just booked my entire Spring Loaded season for £35. Bargain at seven shows.
So yes I am like OMG soooooo 'Dance Aware' (dance responsibly) and I see loads and loads, but how good is it really? Am I really benefiting from seeing loads of shows? Am I or will I become really numb and desensitized? I try to go and see a mix of theatre, film and dance but it isn't as evenly spread as I would like. Will I really be able to form a good well rounded judgement of a piece if I am constantly seeing stuff? Sounds like a contradiction in itself, but maybe too much is too much of an overload sometimes. Over the past couple of weeks I have seen a lot of bigger companies and I was getting worried because I didnt feel I was being blown away by anything. In fact I contemplating walking out on some shows as my brain got bored. Sarah Blanc never feels bored. She Loves dance... she is so, all together now- 'Dance Aware'.
Then just when I thought I was going to have to take up bowls instead of my avid dance stalking, Saturday evening came along and I went to see Babel by Stan Won't Dance. For the first time in a long time I had something to talk about when it finished. Regardless about whether I liked it or not it gave me food for thought. I was touched, shocked, amazed, amused and enthralled but at times annoyed by it.
I loved the blunt approach of the subject matters. I loved how I was shocked at some of the obviously hand picked facts that were used. I loved the physicality. I admired the dancers. The script was great but most of all I loved how it was about something! And about something that matters. Something thats current. I learned new things from it. Did you know you are twice more likely to get stabbed then winning the lottery! Wooo!
I didn't like however how the opinions projected seemed very immature in their development and very one sided. Or how at the end they seemed to preach to us how now after seeing this piece we can be a better society, like we had all been in a life coaching seminar together and they were giving us our list of how we can carry on our good work after this evening. (This was the moment that the piece died for me, as I was sold before that.)
Whilst saying all of that I will give it the Sarah Blanc stamp of approval with a whopping ★★★★. It was theatrical, physical, visual and contextual. Plus I was able to talk about it to my friend that I went to see it with for a good hour or two after. When have I ever done that before?
One satisfied customer.
On another note It was interesting that I went to see it with that fried in particular because she hated it or in her words "It didn't sit very well with me". She felt like the opinions were very heavy handed. Her parents are first generation Africans and she grew up in North London, so her upbringing has been very different to mine. She seemed to be a bit offended at times in the piece and she felt that the choreographers didn't really get or really investigate the different sides to the arguments that they were putting out there. She gave one example of how the piece took the piss out of boys who wear their trousers really low, but she said ts not as simple as it just saying it looks stupid because its a cultural thing. It rolls deeper.
Anyway I liked it. I mean I would rather watch a piece like Babel then watch an 80minute (plus 20miute interval) piece about the wild dog. Oh Tavasiva! One hour with no break would have sufficed. I promise you. Again I LOVED the physicality and the casting was great. They looked well together and even though their costumes were very skimpy and the flesh coloured crotch parts left not much to the imagination I did feel this brought an extra animalistic quality. You could see the time and energy that was invested in the creative process. The wildness was....wild.
ACE was ... not that ace. Two pieces by different choreograhers, but in my humble opinion looked like they could have been by the same person. The red headed power house of a dancer was just phenomenal and the highlight of the show for me. In fact the dancing on a whole was out of this world. They were sharp as nails but it lacked a maturity that the work was calling out for, especially Douglas Thorpe's piece. His work is so emotionally fueled and this piece was no exception but the dancers fell a little short of cutting the mustard! (my new saying)
Retina were great as always. I do love his work and how it is blatantly just about dancing! No fancy sets or costumes. Just sit back and enjoy the beautiful dancing. The energy and flow and articulation is just to die for. It was interesting to also watch because he has only one original dancer left and the other three are new. So from a movement perspective it was very interesting to watch Matt (the original) and how he has embodied Filip Van Hufel's movement compared to the others who have been working with him just this past 10 months. Not much of a difference but yet subtly there is.
However whilst saying all of this I do feel it was a little bit too long. Maybe ten or fifteen minutes? A dancer who really shone for me in Retina was Robert Guy. He is a really muscular guy, but it was amazing to see how he got the really skeletal preciseness and flow of the material. He has something really special and I think he is a dancer we should be keeping an eye on.
Next up for me is Swan Lake in Cardiff on Thursday and Scottish dance Theatre next weekend.
Till next time dance responsibly.