I Am

I Am is the sequel to LCP Dance Theatre’s Am I. The first work is based on the story of Sophie Hayes, a victim of human trafficking and explores how the the victims of sexual exploitation were robbed of their identity. The follow-on shows how through therapy and the support of loved ones they re-discover their stolen identities. It is inspired by the true story of a couple who fell in love in their teens, and transcended the subsequent abuse they encountered when they found each other again in their seventies.

The imagery of these opening sequences is clear, but thereafter the meanings become less obvious and the focus more vague.

A black girl sits huddled on the floor. A series of projected images show her smiling face becoming progressively sadder. A powerful voice talks of love between them but this gradually becomes more menacing as he explains that if she really loves him, she will repay a debt for him. He may indeed love her but in reality has now become a bully who exploits her vulnerability and condemns her to a life overseas as a prostitute. The theme of control is continued in the following scene where she and a number of other girls are seated on chairs. They seem rigid with blank faces as though the life has been drained from them. A man moves amongst them pulling invisible strings from above. They are now his puppets who must do as he says.

The imagery of these opening sequences is clear, but thereafter the meanings become less obvious and the focus more vague. Setting aside some technical issues with the projections, the plot still appears to falter. Scenes of cleansing movements made sense as the girls washed away their past contamination but other actions were less obvious amid the series of formations. The extensive use of the unfolding roll of blue material, presumably symbolic of journeys made by the girls from other continents and back home, at times felt unmanageable and overdone. Rather oddly the girl of the opening scene played only the smallest part in the rest of the production.

The overwhelmingly soft, lyrical movements of the dance were accompanied by matching music, but there was a uniformity in the style and pace that often made it seem dull. Technically there were moments of poor synchronisation and a number of insecure positions in places with loss of balance and wobbles, but in general the whole production needed to be tighter, clearer and more energised to fully convey its message of hope.

The work of this company in highlighting international sex trafficking is important and their contribution to raising awareness has been recognised in Amnesty International nominations. Unfortunately this latest production from Joanna Puchala just doesn’t hit the mark.

Reviews by Richard Beck

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The Blurb

LCP award-winning professional dance company from London draws awareness to human rights violations through dance. Their forthcoming production, I Am, explores the sensual and spiritual journey of recovery of a trafficked victim. It is a sequel to their highly acclaimed Edinburgh Fringe show Am I – successfully performed in 2013 and 2014. It was nominated for the Amnesty International award for the best human rights based performance. ‘The stunning choreography, the impeccable execution and the power of the visual imagery is utterly paralysing’ ***** (Threeweeks on Am I).