If the first day of Gathered Together was cheeky, frenetic and upbeat, the second day is raw, dense and more political. Uchronia by Marc Brew and Gisele Calazans (pictured above) is a feral, sexually-charged look at alternative realities. Framed by Mirella Brandi’s film noir lighting and using Natalia Mallo’s dark soundscapes, the effect is that of an almost David Lynchian mood. Brew and Calazans’ movement together suggests the frustration and fury that comes with co-dependency, of the need to be once together;then apart. Brew almost bites at Calazans’ face- they appear to cling to each other more from ritual than need. When they eventually separate, there is a feeling of aching, the kind of gnawing that comes with a painful romantic break-up, and the innate possibility of never seeing the other one again.
So it is they must return to each other. Calazans powers Brew’s wheelchair with her bare foot; he carries her on his back, and they arch their backs together, in an almost post-coital gesture. Brew seems to beckon her, then she becomes elusive, rolling further away. Yet time and again they come back to move as one, at once like lovers and Siamese twins.An intimate, powerhouse performance which sends shivers through the room and asks larger questions of what keeps people together.
Ruth Foster‘s Waterbaby Dance performed by Dirty Feet Dance Company is a furious, unapologetic statement of intent.Overlapping voices of disabled people ask first ‘What are you looking at?’ then demand to be looked at as people first and foremost. The voices become a babble, crackling like radio static.They move out one by one in wheelchairs in almost military fashion and stare out defiantly, and a solo singer gives voice in a riposte to everyday prejudice… utterly uncompromising and beautiful.
What is so astonishing about choreographer/artistic director of Asi Somos Onil Vizcaino‘s Time Out Not Found is how young the duo of dancers are- only sixteen. Their mirroring work is breathtaking. They are as sleek as big cats, striking athletic poses and tumbling together, to the point where it’s almost hard to discern where one ends and the other begins.It’s a stunning, dizzying routine.
Nada es Fijo (Nothing Is Fixed) by ConCuerpos ,choreographed by Victoria Marks, examines the fragility of nature and humankind alike. Here, the woman in the wheelchair has the power to stop and start music, and then the actions of others, starting with her fellow performers. She becomes a little power-crazed, as only an omnipotent force can. Yet the slogans on screens behind the performers constantly remind the audience of the transience of all things. The trio move first tentatively, then powerfully when together, like a mighty tide.
Repeated gestures and rituals are explored in Jodie Taylor‘s Behind Closed Doors. The trio, comprising Taylor herself, alongside Alex McCabe and Jak Soroka, perform graceful sweeping motions as one unit, before breaking off into anarchic individualism; testing trust issues, hand-eye co-ordination and the limitations of movement. Soroka marches, McCabe appears to ‘malfunction’ like an automaton and then the others follow suit, before returning to perform again as one.It is a perfect metaphor for the co-operation we require from others, the boundaries we come up against and the search for self -agency. Zac Scott from Paragon Music provides the gorgeous soundtrack, which ‘trickles’ out through the auditorium.A voice reminds us that everybody matters and is of equal worth. The piece may be rooted in provocation and highly playful, yet it’s also a striking plea for tolerance. Humane, warm and a lovely finale to an emotional evening.