This performance consisted of two dance pieces by different artists that both, in very different ways, explored disturbing elements of the human condition.
In the first piece, Beta Wave Transport, performer Jack Webb is already writhing and contorting on the floor as the audience enters the space. This strangely compelling and thought-provoking piece ‘scrambles between the jelly like mass of the subconscious mind, to the destruction of the tamed man’.
There were no moments of stillness or calm. Potential movements visibly gurgled, surged and receded. Physical urges bubbled up from within and then were let go into an abandoned freedom, unfettered and unchecked. Others were concentrated into a deliberate action that, in jerks and judders, he struggled to control. There were gestures repeated, rhythmically again and again, the repetition clearly providing such pleasure that they became compulsive, at some point replaced when perhaps an involuntary jerk resulted in a slap to the knee that created a distracting joy. Such instincts of action demanded expression.
The restless energy, the gurning, open mouth, the uncertain and trembling movements, the total immersion in his own world and oblivion to the external world, were of a kind that is elsewhere observed only in the extremes somewhere between chemical inebriation and insanity. The piece wound down, jerk by jerk, and ended in stillness.
This was an unconventional but consistently gripping display of performance art-meets-dance, supported by an unpredictable and sporadically unnerving soundtrack.
The second piece, Bagofti, is a powerful collaboration between award-winning choreographer Gary Clarke and acclaimed performer Gavin Coward, inspired by the life and works of artist Francis Bacon.
Coward is an outstanding contemporary dancer who manages to invest even the most disjointed and awkward movement sequences with a fluid poetry that echoed the grotesque beauty of Bacon’s work.
The piece begins with Coward facing away from the audience. Dressed in a dark suit, one can barely make him out against the black background. More noticeable is the large, black umbrella propped open on the floor that is strangely perturbing. When he turns round we see that he has a dark stocking over his head that completes obliterates his features and the piece has now moved towards being more deeply disturbing.
In a mesmerising sequence later in the piece, he removes the dark stocking from his head to reveal one which is more transparent. He then tugs and pulls at it so that his features are grotesquely distorted, reminiscent of Bacon’s famous ‘heads’ that sealed his reputation as the ‘bleak chronicler of the human condition’. This was a magnificently devised and performed solo piece.
This two-part performance is a must-see for anyone interested in the boundaries of dance and/or sanity.
Show times: 20 Aug, 5pm; 21 Aug, 6pm
Ticket Prices: £7