Presented by 2Faced Dance at mac, Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham
September 30, 2017
It’s always nice to revisit old favourites revived, but even better is the chance to be first at seeing new works which break previously ignored ground and shift audiences out of their comfort zones. This is definitely the case with 2Faced Dance Company’s Outlands, an ingenious triple bill which takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into new worlds of experience.
Announced as “An extraordinary triple bill of contemporary dance by India and the UK’s most up and coming female choreographers,” this show actually did my favourite thing by being full of surprises. The first offering, Who by Ronita Mookerji, is basically a very physical play. Or should that be ‘dance piece’? Or perhaps ‘performance’ might be the best term for a work in which first a woman and then a man have trouble with being in, then getting out of, and finally even being around, a smallish wooden crate one its side with no lid. This sounds a bit awful, but actually it’s deeply refreshing as, instead of being led by the nose and told what to think, we have to make sense of it ourselves. For me this seemed very much about the constrictions we place on ourselves, perhaps culturally conditioned or just through sheer stupidity, and I absolutely loved it.
It’s Not Over Yet, created and danced by Emma Jayne Park (who, aged 30, was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma), shows a woman, a self-confessed cancer sufferer talking, unstoppably, while again repeating compulsive gestures that include eating her own hair. It sounds horrible, but the most appropriate word for audience response is empathy, one of the hardest, nay, the hardest and most evanescent of all audience reactions to produce. Again, I loved it.
With the third piece Yashti, we seem to be on safer ground as a single female dancer, Hema Barathi, also again the choreographer, plays out a series of experiences to create a multilayered portrait of one woman who becomes representative of all women seen as second class in traditional Indian society. By turns charming and serene, and at times violently referencing self-harm, Yashti takes us out of our own cultural zone into a world of Asian dance notation and gesture that is as refreshing as it is powerful, verging as it does at times on the distressing and all the more affecting for that. Yashti is accompanied by the poetry of Andal and Akka Mahadevi and classical Indian music composed by Miguel Marin.
A fascinating evening swept through with a fresh powerful wind of new experiences.
Outlands continues on tour. Visit www.2faceddance.co.uk for dates and venues.