Flat Feet

Movement Angol Productions
Unity Theatre
2nd March 2006

Reviewed by Helen Grey

The second offering from the Unity Theatre’s contribution to the 2006 Leap Dance Festival was an evening of contemporary African and Caribbean Dance. Flat Feet - curated by Francis Angol - comprised of three independent pieces that explored varying themes.

The first - ‘Au Verso De L’Oubliance’ or ‘on the other side of forgetfulness’ - was a solo performance based on a contemporary Caribbean dance approach - Guadeloupe. This dance examined how the body is trying to find its way through the path of noise and turmoil to discover a fruitful silence, enabling us to connect to our ancestors. During the first half of the piece (choreographed and performed by Max Diakok), the theatre filled with sounds of the high street - chatter, sirens and traffic. The dancer’s movements were restrained and jumpy, reflecting the tension around him. Gradually the mood changed, and the music shifted to sounds of the forest, croaking frogs and clicking crickets. Diakok’s dancing followed, becoming fluid and organic.

Francis Angol, - resident artist at Merseyside Dance Initiative - worked intensively with a number of local dance artists as part of MDI’s annual DARE (dance artist in rare environment) project. The culmination of this work was showcased in the second dance of the evening - ‘Shakespeare The Drum'. This piece was meant as a ‘satirical twist on Shakespeare’s Macbeth and of the defining moment of a boy reaching manhood’, with an essence of ‘gothic bling-bling street culture’. In reality, a group of six dancers dressed in attire that looked like a cross between characters from Mad Max and the dodgy Channel Five show ‘The Tribe’, gyrated and crawled around the stage. Stephen Parkinson in particular demonstrated an unnerving head twitch movement that wouldn’t have been out of place in an Aphex Twin video. The synchronisation of the group dancers was a little out but the costumes and atmosphere made up for this shortfall.

The last piece - entitled ‘Ritual Entrapment’ - was choreographed and performed by Francis Angol. It examined ‘how our clothes represent a conscious statement of self-determination that unconsciously entraps the individual into a false sense of self'. The dance began with Angol dressed in several layers of clothes, which covered his entire body and face. Slowly each layer of clothing was removed leaving Angol dressed only in white shorts and vest. He then began dressing in three different costumes: a shirt and tie, a dominatrix outfit and a basketball vest with baggy jeans. Within each different costume, Angol’s movements changed to reflect the predicted personality. While this was happening a voice repeated the phases ‘What we wear represents what we are’, ‘What we wear gives us self worth and self belonging‘, ‘Is what they see what I see?’ and ‘Or is what they see what I want them to see.’ This exhausting dance was professionally performed and managed to engage the audience with its inclusive perspective.

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