This evocative dance performance is as notable for the process by which it was made as it is for the quality of the final product. Bristol-based Impermanence Dance theatre has taken its inspiration for this performance from Max Ernst and his novel
At times nightmarish, chilling and bizarre, moments of lightness and tenderness emerge.
The dance piece was devised with each of the seven dancers choreographing sections, basing each minute of performance on a page of the novel.
The result is surreal and compelling. At times nightmarish, chilling and bizarre, moments of lightness and tenderness emerge. There’s a lot going on in this piece and the narrative is not entirely clear – but this doesn’t matter. Repetition of movements creates recurring motifs in the imagery. There’s a sense of characters and journey – two twinned female dancers, separated travelling through a tangle of strange scenes. In some places there is vocalisation from the acts – sounds of breath, of joy, of surprise, of desperation, and I would like to be better able to hear this in some places over the music. The score itself is excellent, conjuring up a sense of different environments and different moods.
Making the piece with this collage-style process hasn’t resulted in a disjointed work. In fact, the seams between one choreographer’s section and the next are not always apparent. Instead it operates more like chapters, with different characters taking the foreground at different points. Some humorous moments emerge at just the right points in the performance – lurid provocative posturing by a man in leopard-print underpants, the other male performers appearing later in outrageous disco dresses. Costuming is lavish and makeup accentuates often grotesque facial expressions.
Strong on imagery, this is a playful and bizarre performance that had everyone leaning forward in their seats; it’s successful in translating Ernst’s novel into a different artistic form.