On Thursday, we (a coach load of first year dance students) went on a trip to Deda, Derby to see Plan B for Utopia by Joan Clevillé Dance. Here’s a summary of what it’s about and my thoughts after seeing it. I’m starting with a review of this performance as it was the most recent thing I saw, but there are a few more performances I’ve seen in the past few weeks that I hope to post about very soon if I get my act together.
Joan Clevillé Dance is an independent company based in Scotland. Their practice is focused around researching movement and incorporating storytelling and theatre with dance to challenge genres and merge the lines that distinguish the two art forms. Their work is usually intimate and honest and encourage the audience to think about themselves and the way we live in the world.
Plan B for Utopia is a duet between two dancers – John Kendall and Solène Weinatcher. The piece talks about the role of creativity and imagination in changing the world as we see it. As we entered the small studio theatre the dancers were already on stage building a tower of toy blocks and inviting audience members to add to their creation as we took to our seats. The performance then began with the two dancers standing at the front of the stage, talking into a microphone. They asked “Why is it easier to imagine the end of the world than to change it for the better?” and shortly commenced into dance to begin to tackle the largely open, thought provoking question.
The piece addressed deep messages and questions about life in general from start to finish, yet the whole thing was very comical – there were some moments that were absolutely hysterical and so you find yourself wondering if you should even be laughing at something with such a serious undertone. There was one moment where the dancers just stood and laughed hysterically for what felt like a lifetime, and I’m not sure if I was laughing because it was funny or just at other people’s reactions. It was funny at first to experience that infectious laughter from performers as an audience member but I definitely felt like it went on for a bit too long and just became awkward.
The use of voice throughout the performance enhanced the narrative and themes of dreams and wishes by talking directly to the audience the piece became more intimate and invited the audience to think about the questions they were asking in regards to their own lives and thought patterns. I felt that the talking through the duration of the performance made it easier to understand and follow exactly what the meaning behind each scene was, however I’m not sure the actual microphone on the stand was necessary and appeared to get in the way at times.
Personally, I got into it more during the second half of the show and I think that’s because I’d stopped watching it waiting for some ‘proper’ dancing to appear… None of us really knew what to expect when we booked the tickets and our lecturer just said ‘Think about whether this is contemporary dance or not,’ as we went in – there’s a massive focus here on what we think the definition of contemporary dance is, and how to tell the difference between dance styles and theatre etc. (post your ideas on this below?) In my opinion it was more like a physical theatre piece, it had elements of dance but also incorporated singing, acting and there was a lot of use of voice between the two characters and between them and the audience. In all honesty, I spent most of the show sitting there thinking ‘what the hell am I watching…’ it certainly wasn’t something I’d pick out to go and see myself, but it’s nice to see something different every now and then!
If this has interested you then take a look at the company’s website for further information about previous and upcoming performances: http://www.joanclevilledance.com/blog/
The creative team for Plan B for Utopia include:
Written and Directed by Joan Clevillé
Choreography by Joan Clevillé devised in collaboration with the dancers
Performers: Solène Weinachter and John Kendall
Costume and Set Design: Matthias Strahm
Lighting Design: Emma Jones
Dramaturgy Advisor: Ella Hickson
Music: Louis Armstrong, Cliff Edwards, Judy Garland, Gordon Lorenz Orchestra, Willy Mason and MyMy
Much Love x