Out of His Skin supposedly tells the tale of a man who, bored with the monotony of everyday life, embarks on a journey to find his place in the world, taking ever increasing risks in search of the next adrenalin high. If you can spot this storyline, I applaud you.
The piece that actually ensues is more akin to a showcase. The dancers perform some incredibly impressive sequences that display spectacular strength. If the aim was simply to demonstrate the dancers’ physical prowess, which is undoubted, then they would have achieved this. However, the narrative is missing in action and without this the hour long display quickly becomes monotonous.
None of this is helped by the bizarre choice of deafeningly loud, largely non-melodic music. The accompaniment contains few noticeable variations in volume or style, subjecting the audience to something similar to the North Korean loudspeaker system: no dials to change channels, and no switch to turn it off. Moreover, rarely does the choreography actually fit with the music, for instance, moments of slightly slower and uncluttered accompaniment are combined by out of place, furious krumping. During the odd moment of unison between movement and music the potential of such a talented group becomes apparent; sadly these glimpses are swamped by the mediocrity of the rest of the piece.
With such handicaps in place the emotion demonstrated on stage doesn’t translate to the audience. The physical effort is clear, as is the frustration the dancers are attempting to portray, but it does not carry across to ensnare the audience’s emotions, and we are left feeling a completely unconnected group of observers.
The biggest frustration of this piece is that the dancing is largely of a very high standard, though synchronicity in group numbers was often a problem. However, this is not enough for a dance show. The lack of clear narrative or purpose and mismatched music and choreography, make it impossible to emotionally connect with the performance. This group is capable of so much more; sadly this piece does them a disservice.