Bounce!

It’s fair to say that Bounce!, created and performed by French company Arcosm, is a delightfully playful blend of music and dance, performed with real skill and alleged wild abandon. Yet there’s also a real sense that it’s about something remarkably important—our innate ability to ignore, deny, distrust but ultimately overcome the mysteries and challenges that life throws at us—symbolised, on this occasion, by a giant box in the middle of the stage.

There’s no doubting the quality of musicianship and choreography on display here—often combined in truly impressive ways.

Not that the four performers initially seem to recognise the box is even there. Two men, two women: two dancers in loose, casual clothing who commence some light-footed gentle choreography while chatting, accompanied by two smartly-dressed musicians who, between them and a sampler, begin to build up layers of rhythmic melody that are both energising and intriguing. There’s a genuine sense that the musicians don’t entirely approve of what the dancers are doing, or at least the way they’re doing it. But the dancers, totally at ease with each other, appear totally oblivious. The result is entertaining enough.

It says something about even the youngest audience members that the first big laugh of the show comes when the male dancer’s increasingly free-flowing choreography sends him straight into the massive wooden box, also sending the female violinist to the floor among her scattered sheets of music. At first there is confusion and incomprehension; it’s only really after he crashes into the box a second time that its existence is fully comprehended, and even then it’s akin to a replay of that iconic scene from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: a space odyssey when the apes first encounter the black monolith.

What follows is a succession of actions, often repeated to great effect, as the four performers initially try to push the cube away, and then attempt to be the first to climb on top of it, repeatedly dragging each other down in the process. In the course of events, there are several opportunities for the performers to highlight the rhythms than can be found in repetitive laughter and the percussive slaps and beats of their bodies against the box. Beneath the countdowns that come with increasing menace, the four ultimately help each other onto the box, a triumph of cooperation.

There’s no doubting the quality of musicianship and choreography on display here—often combined in truly impressive ways. Despite the relative lack of dialogue (and dialogue in English), there’s also a clarity to the “characters” we see, and how they react to the challenge of the box—be it frustration or curiosity. The result is a show that’s genuinely funny, a bit weird, and confident enough to wear its intelligence—both emotional and intellectual—lightly.

Reviews by Paul Fisher Cockburn

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Performances

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The Blurb

Two dancers and two musicians are faced with the unexpected—a huge wooden cube in the middle of the stage. A stunning and highly amusing dance piece; part of the Edinburgh International Children's Festival. Level: 7-13 years.

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