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Entity (Liverpool)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Venue: Playhouse

Where: Liverpool

Entity: an existing or real thing. In programming: units, whether concrete things or abstract ideas, that have no ready name or label. Hmm, and there was I thinking it had something to do with being possessed – the cast certainly dance as if their lives depend upon it. That same intensity has clearly inspired Wayne McGregor’s creation for Random Dance

The stage (adapted for the Playhouse) is entirely bare apart from banks of lights at each side, with a rectangular screen across the back rising up during the performance. At one point, a rapid succession of images is screened, a greyhound running full pelt at the beginning and the end. Animals, after all, invariably achieve physical perfection and maybe that’s because, unlike humans, it’s instinct; no need to calculate distance, height etc, or make decisions.

By contrast, this complicated piece contains a multiplicity of intricate moves, like an exercise in how far the human body can be driven; what kind of incredible shapes it can make. It’s disconcertingly full of contradiction: fluid and stilted; conflicted and peaceful; classical technique and jarring attitude. The dancers, simply clad in black shorts and white vest tops, often look grotesque, even alien. They stroll on, sit watching the others, dance alone, in pairs or as an ensemble yet whilst separate entities, always work in unison. Quite impossible to tell quite what it all symbolizes, or to anticipate what they will do next, mostly because they are largely expressionless. At least Anna Nowak appears to be enjoying herself (let’s hope that doesn’t get her into trouble)

But without fail, it manages to harmonize with the music, which is as visceral as Heavy Metal, the emphasis now on electronics, now on drums, now on strings. Joby Talbot and Jon Hopkins have come up with what feels like the perfect fit, just as powerful as the cast’s movements.

The arts are always open to interpretation, some, more than others: art itself, poetry and dance. So I’m not preaching to the converted: they were already there, sitting enthralled throughout then rising on a wave of passionate enthusiasm (it was the most crowded post performance Question and Answer session yet). Besides, I know little about dance though enough to appreciate perfection at work – the cast is so accomplished that I have no idea which scene was improvised, as revealed afterwards. Their stamina, strength and talent – the whole experience indeed, is extraordinary.

-Carole Baldock


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