La Nuit Intime, Traverse Theatre, Review
Liv Lorent’s Newcastle based dance company, balletLORENT, has been going now for nearly 20 years. This latest production, la nuit intime, (intimate night) was first performed in two English tours in 2006 and 2007 then in the 2009 Bergen International Festival in collaboration with Carte Blanche in Norway. This 2011 Scottish tour is a remount of these and is supported by Creative Scotland.
I arrived in the Traverse Bar where the close up promenade performance had begun, and was immediately reminded of the wonderful Nofitstate’s circus show, Tabu, on a smaller and more intimate scale. A circus in a jewel box! Through the smoky atmosphere, there was a mini swing apparatus and lots of billowing diaphanous cloth, but moving down the bar area, I became aware of the various bits of action going on (break dancing, balancing, contortions) dotted around the dream-like space and then being faced with the delightful problem of where to look?
In this nightclub/ fairground ambience the closest thing to a main stage was a metal apparatus where the robust masculinity of the acrobatics going on there made it clear their gym lessons had been worthwhile with some of the manoeuvres tipping into what looked like a kind of masochism.
Simultaneously, there is a twirling ménage a trois on one of the spinning stools, a rocking horse that is a vehicle for the decadently casual glamour and muscular grace that these boundlessly energetic young dancers emanate. The gift of looking as though you are a ham takes enormous proficiency as was the dancing as though can’t dance too well, like a terpsichorean Tommy Cooper, of one of the couples. There was a nod to pole and cage dancing fitting to the edgy club atmosphere but it was not sleazy as, like burlesque, was performed to a mixed sex audience.
There was energetic ‘monocycle’ dancing and playful ‘big Jessie’ running, relaxed roller skating, the extraordinary quadruped created by the dancer with shoes on her hands, discreet modern day Sally Rands with gorgeous ostrich feather fans, all within touching distance. (Nobody did!)
There was a sense of being in a night club where everyone stops to watch the best dancers and boy were they the best! They played with traditional ballroom steps making the experience look intense and mesmerising as couples danced closer than closely in time with a solo girl swaying unsupported. With a seamless change of pace they do stomping flamenco and staccato salsa.
There was a new take on Victor Sylvester ‘s mantra of ‘slow, slow, quick, quick slow’ and I was reminded of being told many years ago that a good dancer could dance on a three-penny bit. Strictly, eat your heart out! Their eclectic steps are languid, confident, radical, wild and beautiful and so entrancing that a dancer can suddenly appear naked before your eyes with you not quite knowing how. No wonder the audience, many of whom must have been dance students, was full of smiling awe.
The show was full of tender, sensual vulnerability in the proximity of the audience but also strikingly in the trust between the performers as they surrender themselves to danger with the child like frisson of Will you catch me?/ I’ll always catch you going on. The genders were clear yet roles not defined in this thoroughly magical and mesmerising experience.
The wide mix of music played throughout was perfect for the occasion and while I was unable to recognise most even from the playlist, apart from the wonderful Tiger Lillies’ Crack of Doom, the whole thing was just right.
An audience member told me he kept looking at his watch not because he wanted it to end but because, like anything fabulous, he wanted it NOT to end. The whooping and cheering when the end reluctantly arrived screamed that they had revelled in the spectacle with open hearts. I won’t be able to look at fairy ball gown in the same way again!
18 and 19 November (8pm)