PUSH, Traverse Theatre, Review
Curious Seed was set up in 2005 by Scottish choreographer and artistic director Christine Devaney, who was also a founding member of Dundee Rep Dance Company (now Scottish Dance Theatre).
Winners of a Fringe First Award in 2009 for their dance theatre production, ‘found’, Curious Seed have a mission to explore the limits of movement-based performance and to push beyond those limits through collaboration with outstanding artists in a variety of fields – from music and composition through to video and projection.
Their latest work, PUSH, is a challenging yet absorbing piece that considers what it is that moves us and what makes us move, while bravely striding through the space that exists between verbal and non-verbal communication.
For Delaney, it was crucial that this piece contained a meaningful contribution from ‘real’ people – their stories, their joys and fears and, daringly, the people themselves. The company therefore worked with ‘extra/ordinary’ people in different areas from Stornoway and Mull through to Aberdeen and Edinburgh, representing mixed abilities and ranging in age from 12 to 70. These groups then join the company as part of the performance in their local area.
The performance itself started gently, allowing the audience to acclimatise to the setting, deftly drawing us in. There were six adults and a child sitting or lying about in front of a wall; chatting, playing games or sleeping. There was a pile of clothes on the floor and more hanging over the top of the wall.
As the performance gradually built, four of the adults danced, one played the cello and one sang and recited poetry. There was a screen, unobtrusive on the high right-hand corner of the wall, on which could be viewed a series of black and white images overwritten with questions: Are you listening? What is important? What would you miss? How did you love? What are you scared of?
At distinct moments, images were projected onto the wall that dominated the space. The interaction between the live dance performance and the animated backdrop provided some disturbing, thrilling and beautifully mesmerising sequences. These were often coupled with a deliberately arousing and emotive soundtrack, augmented with stirring authenticity and skill by the live musicians - singer Tallulah Molleson and cellist Robin Mason.
The piles of clothes also had a major role to play, with the performers adding or stripping off layers, sometimes searching through the clothes for something particular and other times jealously guarding their items of choice. The company performance ended with each artist holding out a couple of articles of clothing towards the audience.
It was then that the local ensemble stepped unexpectedly out of the audience to join the company for the last ten minutes or so. Each donned a piece of clothing and contributed a single word or short phrase in answer to some of the questions that had been screened overhead while re-enacting some of the tableaus from the performance. Intriguing, challenging compelling and gently beautiful.
Scottish tour ended