The redness of Red is not visible. The anticipated set of brilliant red objects, a glowing cyclorama, crimson costumes and swathes of red beams flooding the stage do not appear. Instead this red is a signal, a red alert from within that generates what Carl Knif terms ‘emergencies of emotion’.

Knif wears his heart upon his sleeve in Red and literally reveals all.

He grew up in Finland at time when there was little acceptance of being gay and boys were not expected to become dancers. He maintains his ties but also carries the scars.

This solo work is an intimate exposé of aspects of his life, his personal journey and the emotions he has experienced. He touches on death but it is primarily about the triumph of determination, courage and resilience. The map of his life becomes a series of scenes with physical locations around the floor. In moving from one to the next travelling becomes a vital motif as he delineates the rectangular space, criss-crosses the diagonals and moves along vertical and horizontals.

The use of props creates a sense of theatre from the outset. There is an oriental and almost ceremonial imperative about the opening scene in which he lights and delicately balances candles as though about to stage an acrobatic performance, but it transforms into something far subtle. The use of text within his own dance is a new development which he felt to be necessary in order to fully convey his message and adds a further dimension to this work. Similarly the very high frequency strobe lighting is visually enhancing. It maintains a permanently lit area while blurring the arm extensions and gestures to create a sense of urgency and fleeting movement.

Knif wears his heart upon his sleeve in Red and literally reveals all. His decision to bare his body becomes the outward manifestation of baring his soul, but it is also somewhat distracting, prioritising the physical over the emotional. Overall it is an intriguing work in which Knif invites the audience to enter into his world, be with him and identify with him; to stay a while, pause and reflect and perhaps feel the stirrings of their own red. 

Reviews by Richard Beck

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The Blurb

In our everyday lives we often dance on a knife-edge. Carl Knif's solo Red is an intimate portrait of an individual struggling with an inner red alert. The performance is about extremes. You could call them emergencies of emotion. At times, it’s about life and death but mostly about life. This performance is a map. Knif has taken a red marker pen and pointed out moments in his life that have felt really meaningful, or the opposite, lost all their meaning. These moments are not always dramatic. Above all, the colour Red symbolises willpower, authority and courage.