I watched this performance a few nights ago. It was a part of the NEXT Festival which had some very magnificent-looking performances, most of which I missed. Partly due to work times conflicting with performance times, partly due to lack of moneys but mostly due to the constantly surprising fact that the performing arts are actually supported here in France and (unlike in South Africa) most of the shows were sold out at least a week before. Generally, I tend to plan one week at a time (a habit that must change) and never, ever has a contemporary dance show, I think, been sold out in South Africa. (That’s almost certainly not totally accurate but possibly could be). In fact, I am pretty accustomed to buying tickets ‘at the door’. Which means I have stupidly missed out on several spectacles.
The piece, entitled Usually Beauty Fails, was created by Canadian choreographer/musician Frédérick Gravel, whom I ignorantly don’t know much about. It begins with some of the cast casually and rudely watching the audience come in and take their seats. It was a particularly awkward feeling, this being watched by performers, because the seating was not assigned, and the performers got to watch the little antics of the audience as they weigh up which seat they should take, marching up and down aisles, wondering if that seat is being saved for someone or not. I felt a bit cross and vulnerable, particularly because the dancers seemed deathly cool and unsmiling. Dancers are always somewhat intimidating because you are never quite sure what they can do with their bodies, but one thing is for sure, they are pretty confident in their bodies. Dancers on stage – doubly so. This is why we dim the lights and ask them to ignore us as we ogle with admiration and fear.
Sorry – in the middle of writing that, with about 9 to 14 tabs open at the same time, I just read a review by someone else on the same piece. And this person happens to express pretty much exactly how I feel about this performance but her review is more succinct, somewhat wittier and almost certainly better written that whatever I’m going to write. Is it lazy for me to direct you there? The thing is, she so perfectly expresses how I feel about the performance, she is slightly harsher on the piece than I am brave enough to be, however I agree with her. I was totally bewitched through the entire show, swooning along and falling in love with everyone on stage, until the last fifteen minutes, when I realized that I was actually quite bored of watching Small Girl leap into the arms of Large Man. I then realized that this was a totally straight, safely edgy, romantic dance show and I am so accustomed to enjoying that sort of genre with few questions asked. A performance like this is often too charming to realize how unchallenging and un-thought provoking it is. And that’s fine, I did enjoy the piece and I don’t mind that I enjoyed the piece. But now, I digress. The point is, read her review, not mine. READ IT HERE.
And now – pictures. (Feeling slightly guilty for a slightly lazy post and totally silly for feeling slightly guilty).