Theatre from Deconstructed Dance

Can you make theatre by deconstructing dance?  One day after being mesmerised by the phenomenal dancing of NDT2 by the Nederlands Dans Theater at the Lowry, I’m back watching Pact with Pointlessness in the Lowry Studio.  Dance for me is all about the emotional response.

Pact with Pointlessness is described as ‘absurd action, breakneck looping chatter and more than a few laughs’.  And at the centre of the piece are dance routines that aim to show what is going on inside the dancer’s head and look at the process of creating dance.  But it’s a mixed bag.  The opening stream of consciousness routine is surreal and funny, with a very clever tic of moving out of the light to restart the sound (bit like a hand dryer).  The dance routines felt too much like an ‘in joke’ for me, and left me cold.  Musings on how our lives have been taken over by the online world have moments of brilliance but the material isn’t new.  It’s a musing on futility and it veers wildly between superb observation and genuine theatrical futility.  The whole does not exceed the sum of the parts.

Compare this to Jo Fong’s An Invitation at the Royal Exchange last month.  This show also deconstructed dance, setting the scene after the end of an imaginary performance.  But the feel was very different.  This was a playful, thoughtful look at how we approach performance, the dance routines adding to the emotional impact of the performance.  Regardless of their experience of dance, the audience were brought into the performance.  In fact, the dance routines sought to create powerful highlights in an otherwise introspective show, giving a real insight into the mind of the dancer.

So, can you make great theatre out of deconstructed dance?  Well, yes, it’s possible, but you need to approach it right, and ensure that you still create emotional impact. But perhaps the beauty of dance is how it makes us feel when it’s done well.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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