Review: Gathered Together at Tramway, Day 1


A: Version- photo with kind permission, Ian Watson

Gathered Together is a celebration of difference and also that which bonds us. Indepen -dance , the dance company celebrating their 20th birthday this year, tonight present three little gems which showcase what their Artistic Director Karen Anderson describes as ‘ability, not disability’.

Choreographer Joop Oonk’s We Aren’t Extinct at All… starts things off in cheeky, grandstanding style. The youth ensemble Indepen-dance Young 1’z freestyle, rock out and form a human chain, all aided by plastic dinosaurs. The theory goes, dinosaurs didn’t become extinct- they just mutated into disco beasts and throw shapes on the dancefloor now. I’m willing to believe it, on the strength of tonight’s evidence.

A: Version performed by Indepen-dance 4 (pictured above) is simply brilliant- a wry piece of dance choreographed by Laura Jones and Stopgap Dance Company. The fab four, Hayley Earlam, Adam Sloan, Neil Price and Emma Smith , deconstruct not only the dance process (particularly contact improvisation) but what is considered the norm, in terms of the ‘behaviour’ of disabled performers. They aren’t afraid to act up, or be very, very playful with expectations.

They gently mock each other. Adam arrives late, swigging from a coffee cup. The lights go out, and they exclaim, ‘Where’s my costume?’ Diva demands are requested, and then the audience is introduced to their unique dance moves:’Drunk dancing; Toast, toast, fire extinguisher’,’Projectile baby’ (my personal favourite) and a move simply known as’Hiya!’ I love every second of it. Funny, pointed and intelligent.

Hoppin’ in Harlem choreographed by Jeanefer Jean-Charles and directed by Random Accomplice’s Julie Brown is gorgeous. The whole Indepen-dance ensemble present a slick, sassy tribute to the Cotton Club. It’s visually ravishing, with 20s dames and wise guys in their monochrome finery and sharp period design from Kenny Miller.

To a fabulous live soundtrack by Karen McIvor and The Swing-Cats, the controversy of lindy-hopping as the source of all debauchery is cheekily referenced, and the air raid sirens ring out every ten minutes, making all ‘duck and cover’ . Here everyone gets a chance to shine, with a solo in the spotlight, and the storytelling about American liberty in the swing era  is rich and funny- an infectious and joyful piece.

(Lorna Irvine)




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