I know very little about contemporary dance thus going to see ‘The double bill Of Land and Tongue’ was definitely an adventure into the unknown. I did not know what to expect and what I saw went far beyond the margins of my imagination.
This remarkably fascinating show commenced with an aesthetic and physically straining work titled “Chalk”, choreographed by Theo Clinkard who was inspired by the iconic cliffs of his hometown. Chalk is white because it is formed from the remains of living things – trillions of skeletons of minute marine organisms deposited in a thick layer. You begin to experience the liveliness s of still cliffs as Theo embodies a microscopic creature. The skeleton curves into unimaginable gestures and positions; deep backbends and outstretched arms. Exaggerated side-bends and sharp head movements all evoke a feeling of great discomfort as you become conscious of 206 individual bones and realise you are breakable. At times the movement softened or was absent, contrasting flesh with the bone. It was hard not to find the whole affair intensely beautiful. In this world we tend to numb vulnerability but this performance allowed ourselves to be seen, deeply seen.
The next piece titled “Of Land and Tongue” transformed the studio into a place of havoc as cryptic words puzzled our ears. Much of this performance centred around the frustration with the limits of one’s language. Language is central to our experience of being human, and the languages we speak profoundly shape the way we think and the way we see the world. The movements were difficult and strange, the dancers never quite in unison. The space between them so small yet they were so very distant, marking the tragic reality of our life which runs its course between the silence of one who cannot speak and the silence of the other who does not understand.
Then suddenly, the performers begun to ‘balter’ – to dance artlessly, without particular grace or skill but with extreme joy. They seemed like a bunch of carefree kids playing who do not fit in a box or stay between the lines. It was an outburst of crazy, blissful dance. It was unexpected, and delightful.
The show was brought to an end with a string connecting us together and dancers singing in a common langue. And let me tell you it felt good. There is nothing more intimate in life than understanding others and being understood. The audience erupted in applause, and there was a shared sensation of joy in knowing that we’d all just partaken in something truly extraordinary.
Wiktoria Banda, BSc (hons) International Management; Edge Arts Arts Ambassador