Blogger Louise has been teaching yoga for 10 years and runs classes near to her home in the Peak Disctrict. She is a mum to two little one's. Louise reviewed Stopgap Dance Company's performance of Artificial Things on Friday 28 February.
'Stopgap is a theatre dance company that seeks to seamlessly integrate dancers with and without disabilities. It is this integration which makes their work 'exceptional'. 'Difference is our means and our method' is their encouraging and uniting motto.
Artistic Director, Lucy Bennett, has put together a remarkably powerful performance, representing Unity, Acceptance and Strength, expressed by five very talented differently abled dancers.
The first scene had an enigmatic feel about it as dancers moved both beautifully and awkwardly across the intimate stage setting. There was an underlying theme of synergy, yet also disorder. The story became clearer as it unfolded. As the programme elucidated, 'a group of individuals seek escape in a bash of riotous rock-n-roll, their wild disorder descends into playground politics and reveals some uncomfortable truths'. This theme was maintained through the three scenes of the production.
Each of the five dancers radiated the most amazing and different energy, from magnetic, charming to seductive, curious, and unique. Their strength was magnificent and awe-inspiring. The moves appeared to be a melding of traditional Yoga asana with acrobatic and contemporary dance: incredible limbs perfecting incredible abstract shapes with and without props. Stunning, powerful, entrancing solos contrasted with moments when the company were united as one. The effect was a hypnotic and enigmatic performance, drawing you in to its deep penetrating moods.
The next scene was set at a train station with a ticking clock and loud rock-n-roll blaring. The shocking start led to an equally sinister finale. The 'bully' of the story is shown a mirror to help him understand and feel remorse for his actions, sadly resulting in tragedy for him. The costumes were intriguing and the music powerful, matching the mood of the dancers. The dancers' movements were acrobatic, as they moved across the stage on upturned chairs. There was a fun abstract feel as a 'Henry Hoover' integrated himself onto the stage and 'Geoffrey', an empty suit, inspired by the artwork of Serbian artist Goran Djurovic, was positioned on a chair throughout.
Scene 3, inspired by a 'Snow Globe', delicately placed paper cuttings were strewn across the stage. As the dancers moved though them, patterns of their movements were created and the paper floated around them. The resulting effect was of the wind blowing and snow falling; turbulent, yet beautiful as the dancers became one. At one point, a dancer was lifted by another in a shoulder stand, creating the impression of flying. The turquoise costumes and the lighting were magical, casting shadows across the stage and audience. Then was the mystifying solo of David, which was remarkable. He seemed full of sorrow, his expression deep and captivating. He then put on the suit jacket from Geoffrey and left the legs behind, maybe making the point that he doesn't need them!
There were several times when dancers had to remain still for long periods of time; a feat in its own right, demonstrating strength and concentration. The stage is incredibly close to the audience, drawing you in and giving the dancers something to bounce off and absorb. Being able to watch every detail of movement, every muscle move, was fascinating.
Deda was the perfect venue to host this performance. The intimate feel of the stage and proximity of the audience to the dancers meant the performers and the audience almost became one entity. The after show talk with the dancers and Artistic Director allowed the audience to express the strong emotions the performance had evoked, as well as unravel some of the more mystifying elements.
I was attracted by this performance as my son has Autism. It was very emotional and inspiring to watch how the energy of performers can capture the imagination of the viewer and with it, bring acceptance of an array of differences. Perhaps others were also watching from the same angle and experienced the same pleasure and peace that it brought to me.'