“Very well developed and powerful, with bags of personality”
There are times that I feel like I’ve seen everything there is to see in contemporary dance, but Czech company VerTeDance showed me that originality is still very much alive and well with new piece Correction. The show begins with seven dancers in a neat row on stage, arm’s length apart from each other. And that’s where they stay for the entire performance. Honestly.
Such a bold, simple approach reminded me of the founders of the Judson Church contemporary dance movement in the 1960s, pushing those very same boundaries and asking the question “what is dance?”. While there’s certainly movement and music, the seven performers are literally glued to the floor throughout the piece and don’t take a single step.
Despite the seemingly constraining concept, it’s actually a very well developed and powerful piece, with bags of personality, tension and progression from beginning to end. In the opening moments the dancers look around and become aware of their space and own being. It’s a slow and subtle start, and like many pieces I’ve seen before, but then the fun begins. One dancer turns to poke the next, who reacts by tipping slightly from side to side before coming back to standing. Then they poke the next, and so on. Before long there’s lots of poking, lots of tipping and chaos ensues.
After a brief musical interlude, the next iteration of movement involves the dancers falling over, while still having their feet stuck to the ground. It’s thoroughly enjoyable to watch them struggle back up to standing, with hilarious, unimpressed reactions from their fellow dancers. As this section developed, some of the body contortions and balances made were simply astonishing, and at times seemed to defy gravity.
The action soon moves onto a sort of fight scene, with dancers pushing and shoving and bending and falling in all directions. There are several repeated sequences in this section of the dance, which speed up and becomes more frantic, before a moment of stillness. This section is very impressive and controlled, showing great skill and dexterity to make all the shapes and supporting positions for each move. The final sequence is somewhat unexpected, but adds a new dimension and feeling to the work.
Throughout the piece music is provided by Clarinet Factory, a four-piece clarinet group who move forward and back creating incredible atmosphere with their instruments to support the action. It’s not something you see every day, but in a bizarre kind of way it really works.
This is one of those pieces you’ll be talking and thinking about well after you’ve left the auditorium, and really is worthy of being seen to be believed.
Reviewer: Steve Griffin (Seen 2 October)