Light, Ladd & Emberton: Caitlin

Posted: August 10th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Performance | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Light, Ladd & Emberton: Caitlin

Light, Ladd & Emberton: Caitlin, Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, August 5

Eddie Ladd wrapped around Gwyn Emberton in Deborah Light's Caitlin (photo: Warren Orchard)

Eddie Ladd wrapped around Gwyn Emberton in  Light, Ladd & Emberton’s Caitlin (photo: Warren Orchard)

“My husband was a very famous poet and I was going to be a very famous dancer,” says Caitlin wistfully at the beginning of her eponymous show as she revisits the ambitions and disappointments of her life with Dylan Thomas. It was a famously unfaithful, fractious yet inseparable relationship recorded in Caitlin’s Leftover Life to Kill and in numerous biographies of Dylan. In their recreation of the relationship, however, the team of Deborah Light (director), Eddie Ladd (Caitlin) and Gwyn Emberton (Dylan) decided not to follow the well-trodden textual paths but instead built a high energy, highly physical language to convey the passions of these two lives to the point of overflowing. It is not a pretty work of artistic-romance-turned-alcoholic-upheaval but a brutally subjective reconstruction that makes use of the dispassionate, mass-produced folding chair as an extension of the body to express the rage, subservience, servitude, consummation and consumption that infused, confused and ultimately broke apart these two lives for ever.

The folding chair is in itself emotionally neutral but something happened during rehearsals for Caitlin to make the folding chair a central metaphor for the entire story. Upturned and backwards, it becomes a low highchair on which Emberton turns quietly reading Agatha Christie and stuffing sweets; it is used on different occasions as a straightjacket, a noose, a yoke, even Dylan’s penitential cross. Folded, stacked and loaded on Ladd’s back or balancing on her head it is her intractable burden; laid on her supine figure it becomes a self-imposed grave and tombstone on which Emberton lays his manuscript in hommage. It is a token bed, a dais for Dylan’s recitals and unfolded and precariously stacked, a fêted throne from which he topples and crashes. The chairs are also thrown, scattered, refolded and stacked like pieces of a desperate game in tune with the narrative tide.

As we arrive in the studio at Chapter, however, the red or grey chairs form a harmonious circle in the centre, a stasis. We occupy only the twenty grey chairs; on some of the red ones are assorted plastic cups, sweets/pills and a rumpled manuscript. The circle takes its inspiration from the form of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting with which Caitlin became familiar some 20 years after Dylan’s death in 1953. “My name is Caitlin and I’m an alcoholic,” says Ladd at the end, but the end is a lifetime away from the beginning.

Emberton is sitting in the circle as we enter to take our seats. He is dressed casually, inconspicuously, and looks as if he is waiting, like us, for the performance to begin. Ladd walks in with an almost imperceptible flounce in a red tartan skirt and an embroidered velvet top the colour of blood (costumes by the subtly imaginative Neil Davies) and sits on her hands to deliver her matter-of-fact opening line. She engages her audience directly, looking around at us as if we are all complicit in her situation, knowing we know what she knows but determined to refresh her side of it with grim familiarity. Emberton is immediately drawn to her as if he is seeing her for the first time and runs to plant his face in her lap. This is the connection that sets their fate; he will return to this place as often as he needs absolution, forgiveness, reassurance, sex. ‘It was going to be a truce between his brain and my body’ she says as she wraps herself around his head like a scarf, his mouth filled with her thighs. They collapse, not for the last time, under the weight of each other’s passion.

This is Caitlin’s story, her circle of chairs and we are her guests; Dylan is merely the argument, the flashback, the colour and flame in her story. Emberton’s focus is fixed on Ladd; his eyes are dead to all but her. She is the one who engages us directly with her eyes and irony: “He wrote three poems that year; I gave birth to our third child,” she bristles, her motherly activities contrasting with the famous husband standing on a chair silently intoning his immortal words. “We were supposed to be equal”, she adds, withdrawing a chair rudely from the circle while Emberton pushes his to the centre. The harmony of the chairs is broken and the domestic tension breaks with it as they both bounce off the walls in inebriated, screaming abandon and crawl on all fours with the empty plastic cups held tightly in their teeth. The soundscore of Thighpaulsandra manipulated by Sion Orgon punctuate the action with unnerving accuracy.

After more drinking and pills and vomiting the chairs go flying; ours are the only ones left in the circle. “That year he went to America for the first time” Ladd informs us, rocking a chair like a cradle, while Emberton spins dizzyingly outside the circle. In between building his throne of chairs on the other side of the Atlantic (from the wreckage of chairs in the family circle) he returns to Caitlin to be ‘tickled by the rub of love’ which inevitably turns into a brutal battle, reconciliation, head rubbing and departure on yet another North American tour. At four chairs high Dylan’s throne finally topples and Emberton crashes to the ground; Ladd in a circle that has suddenly lost its tension falls to the floor in shock.

The difference between Dylan and Caitlin is that Dylan was able to transform his desires into words that gained him immortality while Caitlin remained unfulfilled outside her family circle. All she knows is that without her Dylan would not have succeeded. Resigned to this and proud, she thanks us for listening. What she cannot see is that Light, Ladd & Emberton have made her a gift of her chosen art in providing her with a rich body of language she was unable to develop during her life with Dylan.

Caitlin was commissioned by National Library of Wales and funded by Arts Council Wales. It is supported by Volcano, Chapter, Aberystwyth Arts Centre and Borough Theatre Abergavenny. It will be at the Edinburgh Fringe from August 21-30 at DanceBase.

Joanna Young and Karol Cysewski

Posted: October 21st, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Performance | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Joanna Young and Karol Cysewski

 Army of Me by Joanna Young and Wonders of the Universe by Karol Cysewski, Borough Theatre, Abergavenny, September 18

Double bill of Joanna Young and Karol Cysewski

Kirsty Arnold in Joanna Young’s Army of Me (photo Iain Payne)

The power of theatre is not only in the images we see in front of us but in what memories they inspire; the two are inextricably linked. The image of Kirsty Arnold standing barefoot in her printed cotton dress in the corner of the stage, slightly in the shadows as if not quite daring to come out, is just the beginning of a delicate journey — ‘distorted echoes in a world made of small pieces’— that choreographer Joanna Young weaves, that Arnold traces, that John Collingswood illumines and that Filipe Sousa’s sensitive soundscape evokes. It is the stuff of memory made manifest in all its clarity of detail. Through the phenomenon of recall, Young places us in the life of a young woman at a moment of intense significance, a shift in maturity perhaps, or a pique of rebellion.

The space in which Arnold stands so pensively is itself the suggestion of a room, in which she stands at a window looking up at the birds flying overhead, thinking perhaps of her future. Collingswood’s lighting projects three shadows of her on the back wall, one progressively taller than the next, like a chart of imagined growth. She crosses her arms in silence then places her hands on her hips looking up. A winsome young girl with red hair, beautifully self-contained and playful, she kneels, shaking her head, then lies stretched out on the floor. Getting up, she shakes her head again, with an arm gesture of dismissal. She is anticipating what we can now hear, the sound of feet crunching up a gravel path, up wooden steps, approaching or walking around. Sousa’s score includes recordings of footsteps by Brychan Tudor, one of Young’s inspirations along with Amy Cutler’s visual art. Arnold moves out of the light into silhouette, but Collingswood finds her, defines her in a wash of light. It is as if we are watching her as she plays in her own room; she pauses, then slides playfully to the side, skipping across the floor, independent, on the verge of experience, arms raised defiantly, running, turning like a dervish, not wishing to surrender her freedom; there’s that dismissive gesture again. Her figure moves into silhouette then back to the light, a little helpless, brushing away the distractions, faster and faster, in her journey of awakening. The steps are getting louder, closer. She runs across the room, suspended in time like the tolling church bells we hear. Her toes play, she kneels, bends forward, prays, but with a sense of an impending closure. In the darkening room she contemplates her hands until they disappear.

Gwyn Emberton, Karol Cysewski and Drew Hawkins in Wonders of the Universe (photo John Collingswood)

Gwyn Emberton, Karol Cysewski and Drew Hawkins in Wonders of the Universe (photo John Collingswood)

Karol Cysewski’s Wonders of the Universe is another kettle of (prehistoric) fish, an exploratory look at the origins of the universe through the agency not of NASA but of three comic crustacea in jackets and jeans (cleverly designed by Neil Davies) whose sexual proclivities at this stage of creation are openly acknowledged. John Collingswood lights and clouds the murky depths of the universe and ocean in which the three performers (Cysewski, Gwyn Emberton and Drew Hawkins) take evolution for a spin with a suitably elemental sound score by Sian Orgon. Cysewski is clearly having fun, but he is careful to moderate the cartoon-like characterization by harnessing the awe and excitement of Brian Cox’s commentary from his series Wonders of the Universe (the starting point of the work). Cox’s theories lend context to the choreography and at the same time Cysewski’s choreographic treatment reduces those vast theories to a more manageable size. The mouthpiece of Cox’s voice is Cysewski’s midriff, manipulated into blind lips by his fellow anthropods and through these lips pass some of the great evolutionary theories of our time which the trio then plays out: the Big Bang as a writhing form that is suddenly zapped and Emberton demonstrates the survival of the fittest by knocking his fellows on the head, a favour they return as they dance in solo or pairs: gametes and zygotes in a primeval mating ritual with attendant cluckings and horn-like siren calls.

In this grand scheme of evolutionary fervour there is suddenly an amoebic fart, an infinitesimal bang with a bad smell. The trio looks at each other accusingly. Cox is silent on the subject but Orgon is clearly having a ball with a techno riff on farts, snores and whistles.

Our evolutionary trio rushes forward from the oceans across the growling African plains to the point at which they stand on the Borough Theatre stage this evening — thousands of generations later — illustrating their miraculous journey. The midriff oracle speaks again; we hear the wonderment in Cox’s voice as he describes the stars evolving and dying, time unfolding and how nothing lasts forever. It’s a ‘majestic story’ and a lot to ponder, but the cheers and applause at the end signal an engagement by the audience not only in the science but in the dance. It’s a heady mixture.

Aura Dance Theatre

Posted: October 18th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Performance | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Aura Dance Theatre

Aura Dance Theatre’s double bill of Birute Letukaite’s Am I The One Who I Am? and Deborah Light’s The Curio Cabinet, Chapter, Cardiff, October 15

Andrius Stakele and Marius Pinigis in The Curio Cabinet (photo Noel Dacey)

Andrius Stakele and Marius Pinigis in The Curio Cabinet (photo Noel Dacey)

How refreshing to see a new company that hails from off the beaten cultural track. Such is Aura Dance Theatre from Kaunas in Lithuania that presented a double bill at Chapter in Cardiff with a recent work by their director Birute Letukaite (Am I The One Who I Am?) and new choreography by Deborah Light (The Curio Cabinet).

The title of Letukaite’s piece is a little convoluted, which may be a translation problem or an indication of the complexity in dealing with the theme of identity. Certainly there is a lot going from the very beginning of the performance as we enter the theatre. On the way down to my seat, I pass a line of four women in costume and makeup draped against the wall and sit in the front row next to a tall young man in makeup wearing a skirt and jacket, and wonder if I will be part of the performance. He gestures to the seat as if to say it’s ok and I trust him. On stage a woman lies in the steely blue light looking as if she is having contractions. Another woman sits facing the back apparently naked in an office chair next to a textile clock (I thought of the painting by Dali I had just seen — The Persistence of Memory — that features his melting watches). Four moulded-textile anatomical forms (by Almyra Bartkeviciute-Weigel) hang lifeless on a rail at the back as if waiting for a body to fill them. Imprinted on each is an office chair in lurid, silky blue.

The woman with contractions (Gotaute Kalmataviciute) sits up and marks the space around her with precise, repetitive, bird-like gestures of the head and arms with breathtaking sensuality. The young man next to me (Andrius Stakele) gets up to join her and is immediately sniffed by the bird-like head and hands before he introduces himself in a solo of large gestures that blur the lines around him with a bull’s force to Kalmataviciute’s avian curiosity. In the posture and gestures of a second man (Marius Pinigis), there is a suggestion of Nijinsky’s introverted prankster Tyl Eulenspiegel, gestures of illness or instability delivered with uninhibited force. Letukaite has nurtured the identity of these three characters convincingly, enhancing their natural stage presence and ability to make beautiful shapes. Delve under the surface of identity and you come quickly to the sexuality and eroticism of gender and these are explored as well in the repeated interlocking and piling of bodies, but there is an equality of sexual expression between men and women, even if Kalmataviciute’s mastery of space makes her identity dominant.

The other seven dancers are used less forcefully, more to illustrate a point than to express their inner selves. In a secondary theme of identity in the workplace, a woman concentrates on repeating a series of mechanical gestures and there is a comic reference to our reliance on mobile technology to promote and enhance our identities. These clichés are underlined and explored further in an accompanying film, though the medium’s ability to draw our attention tends to eclipse the action on the stage. We are left with a woman dancing to a repetitive beat who nevertheless reveals a tenacious spirit of individuality and the quiet woman in the office chair who has been wheeled around by a trio of acolytes is finally revealed to be pregnant: the regeneration of life, a new identity in a complex world.

Identity of course goes far deeper than the shadow of an occupation, of the clothes we wear or of any other external cause. Perhaps the three main characters come across so well because their identity is allowed to develop from the inside in its genuinely anarchic, sometimes anti-social way. As soon as identity is processed, it loses its richness. The success of Am I The One Who I Am? is divided along this fault line.

Identity also infuses Deborah Light’s The Curio Cabinet, though in terms not so much of individual expression as of the gender issue. Light, one of whose ‘guilty pleasures’ (her term) is reading historical novels, drew her inspiration for The Curio Cabinet from the story of Mary Anning, whose name is little known outside the world of palaeontology to which she devoted her life in the first half of the nineteenth century. Her significant contribution to the science of fossils — then called curios — was acknowledged in her time though not officially recognised by the male-dominated scientific circles in which she would have moved had her gender not been a barrier. In The Curio Cabinet there is not a curio in sight, no delicate pick in Anning’s hand, for this is no historical tale. The one indication of Anning’s fieldwork is the ruggedness of her outfit: a bodice, corduroy pants, woollen socks and hiking boots.

Light takes us straight onto the un-level playing field, marked out by a white taped square within which Anning’s two male counterparts (Andrius Stakele and Marius Pinigis) search, strut and squabble. They are conceived as a homoerotic Tweedledum and Tweedledee and costumed with unsparing satire by Neil Davies in old school black shoes and socks with suspenders, woollen underwear, boned corsets and an exaggeratedly high Etonian collar. Anning (Solveiga Vasiliauskaite) with her flaming red hair moves for the most part outside the white taped square, keeping her nose to the ground, but her feminine alter ego (the beautiful Gotaute Kalmataviciute) dressed in a black lace body suit finds a way in that sends the two males into a tailspin. Light is uncompromising in championing Anning as a model for the female cause, but she never lets her sharp wit upset the tone of the story: at one point she repeats a motif where her characters chip away at the rock; Anning and the men make the percussive sound with their feet but the über-female uses her hand, sensing precisely where the hidden curios lie in this game of opening up opportunities.

The imagery is both striking and beautiful, with an erotic charge that drives the action. Anning is left on the sidelines after the heat of battle, as she was in her professional life, but Light has chipped away at the fossil of male chauvinism to reveal her rightful identity. Perhaps Anning herself has the last word: like the curios she so painstakingly released from the rock, the identity of the choreographer is inherent in the choreography. Keep chipping.

This performance is the result of the first stage of a collaboration between Deborah Light and Aura Dance Theatre supported by Chapter and Wales Arts International. A full version of the work will be developed and performed by Aura Dance Theatre in Kaunas in November.

Deborah Light’s HIDE can be seen at the Traverse, Edinburgh on January 31 as part of the 2014 British Dance Edition.

Deborah Light: HIDE

Posted: February 27th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Performance | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Deborah Light: HIDE

Deborah Light, HIDE, Chapter, Cardiff, February 22

photo: John Collingswood

Rosalind Hâf Brooks in HIDE photo: John Collingswood

Since she left Laban in 2001, Deborah Light has been researching the notions of inside and outside, what is revealed about a person and what is hidden. She would have agreed with the painter René Magritte that ‘There is an interest in that which is hidden and which the visible does not show us.’ Using the body and mind as material, Light is concerned with the deeper layers of the human psyche; the program note for HIDE says it ‘delves beneath our outer shell, revealing internal worlds, and exposing the multiplicity of human nature.’ The three performers (Jo Fong, Rosalind Hâf Brooks and Eddie Ladd) have already marked out significant journeys in dance theatre and their experience is a vital ingredient in HIDE. They work close to that boundary of fearful and fearless, following the notion of abandonment of inhibition as a way forward.

The three meanings of ‘hide’ are printed in the program and become immediately apparent in the auditorium: Fong stands naked on a pedestal on stage as we file into our seats. From our darkened hide in the audience we see her hide that she cannot hide. She may be shivering from the cold air, but she is definitely out of her comfort zone, and we witness her struggle as she experiences that psychological barrier between clothed and unclothed, private and public. If she cannot hide her body, what is she revealing? That metaphysical question — and its obverse — is a central theme in the work. While Fong is on her pedestal, Ladd is kneeling with her back to us writing on the floor something we cannot read (and which she later rubs out) and Brooks is facing the back corner crouching in her underwear on a loudspeaker. All three women are materially visible, but their internal worlds are obscured. In the course of HIDE these three charged characters collide like atoms in an accelerator releasing in the process facets of their own inner worlds that interact and reform as new layers of experience.

There is an element of Huis Clos here: three characters confined in one space without the possibility of leaving. The stage (designed by Neil Davies with lighting supplied by five mobile studio lamps manipulated by the performers) is their cell, and over the course of HIDE their initial detachment breaks down into a mutual dependence (as in climbing into each other’s clothes) that is broken only when Fong abruptly announces ‘I’m off’ and leaves. Unlike the Sartre scenario, there is a way out of eternity.

The soundscape by Sion Orgon is a driving, frenetic electronic score with a quality of crossed wires that weaves in recorded sounds of children in a playground, distorted voices, dream-like fragments, birdsong, cavernous Morse code, and Bach’s Mass in B Minor. Given its non-narrative, almost random nature, it is all the more remarkable when the score, the choreography and the characters suddenly coalesce to create a moment of extraordinary power and beauty like an ascending mountain path that suddenly opens on to a breathtaking vista. Ladd is describing, with appropriate sounds and words, the cutting up of a carcass, hanging from its two back legs, while we hear repeated snatches of Bach’s Crucifixus from the B Minor Mass that Fong seems to control as she swoons and sings, twitches and falls. Brooks, to whom reality is revealed through her olfactory sense, is endlessly sniffing around like a fly around the carcass. Magical.

Ladd puts in a powerful performance, acting as the central narrator (in both official languages); perhaps it is her personality, or the force of her presence, but she anchors the dramatic action. She weaves aspects of her life story through the work, from the length of her hair over the past decades, to changing her name to learning how to walk like a man — all strategies for hiding, it seems, but she carves her way through the performance with blinding confidence. As she says at the end with quiet determination, ‘I am a Welsh speaking female. I should not hide.’ Fong has a fluid quality — like water to Ladd’s fire — that flows from wild abandon to introspection and Brooks is air, breathing out animal exhalations like a dragon when she is not taking in the scents around her.

Some of HIDE’s material comes from Light’s solo work: one can recognize idioms from Cortex in Brooks’ crazed scrabbling on the floor, her fluttering hands in a gesture of abandon, in the references to animal behaviour, and the flirting with nakedness. In HIDE Light has taken her research to another level, an original voice with a stark, uncompromising vision and the ability to coax out of her performers the material they need for their long journey — one that is never quite finished because, as Magritte points out, ‘Everything we see hides another thing.’

Fong finally turns the performance on its head, demurring that ‘It’s not me you came to see. You came to see a show.’ She leaves and Brooks disguises herself as a powerful inert image in black (see the photo above), part animal in platform hoofs and part hooded human. With no further interaction possible, Ladd is left to turn out the remaining lights, one by one, clothing us all in darkness. And with nothing left to see, we leave our hide.

What a lovely printed program: well designed by Marc Heatley, with no hype, lovely photography by John Collingswood and just enough text…even if the proof reader missed the printing schedule.

TaikaBox: Beyond the Body

Posted: January 2nd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Performance | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on TaikaBox: Beyond the Body

TaikaBox: Beyond the Body, Aberystwyth Arts Centre, November 28

photo: Michal Iwanowski

photo: Michal Iwanowski

Taika is a Finnish word for magic. So TaikaBox is a magic box, which is the nature of a theatre. In the evening’s program there is a quote from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: ‘We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.’ In the context of Taikabox, that could describe an evening at the theatre. There is also a quote from Bruce Lee: ‘The intangible represents the real power of the universe – it is the seed of the tangible.’ If we substitute ‘theatre’ for ‘universe’, we arrive at the same proposition: what we see on stage (the tangible) is our human response to what is invisible (intangible), but we can only express this if we are spiritual beings to begin with.

This brings us to the starting point of choreographer Tania Råmon and designer John Collingswood’s Beyond the Body: the nature of spirituality itself, or what makes a human being. As anyone who reads the company blog will realise, the creative process includes a veritable smorgasbord of inputs, from Kabbalistic mysticism, Qigong, Carnival and running to meditation, states of consciousness and the use of neurological perceptions. We don’t see any of this, of course, but some of it nevertheless finds expression — perhaps a little too literally at times — on stage. As we walk into the auditorium there are five dancers dressed in beautifully designed, loose clothing (by Neil Davies) seated in the lotus position on a white stage. The two musicians are just visible in the wings and there is a perfume of incense in the air. This is no ordinary performance; it is an arresting — and perhaps even uncomfortable — image for those expecting an evening of dance, but it underlines the inside-out nature of Beyond the Body: it is concerned less with formal questions of performance than it is with exploring what produces the formal solutions.

It is when the dancers move that the magic begins, as it is the movement that triggers the painting of light that Collingswood has developed into a visual dance language. A projection of light falls on Daisy Natale as she sits in meditation, then on Karol Cysewski and the other three in turn. The arms of the dancers then set their torsos in motion, and the projection of light expands with them like a painted aura as they rise and move until the light around each dancer merges into that of the others like splashed white paint and the entire stage seems to respond to each and every movement providing a beautifully diffused illumination. Collingswood is clearly in his element here, experimenting with light as an extension of the moving body. During the performance, he uses his imagination and technical wizardry to conjure up energy fields, transform the stage into clouds, trace the flight of a single gull until its path fills the space, and link smoke or ink-inspired patterns and shadows to the movement of the dancers. It is the lighting that closes the gap between technology and dance, but which at times has a tendency, because of its novelty, to attract attention to itself: the images of smoke are beautiful in themselves but tend to overpower the stage action and when a mandala is projected down on to the dancers its spiritual significance is reduced to an illustrative pattern. We are on the borderline of digital art and stage dance; it seems with a little further push in this direction, there will be no dancer but a projected kinesthetic image. Interestingly, one section of Beyond the Body is a choreographic essay of Collingswood’s lighting imagery to live music (by Eyebrow, comprising Paul Wigens on drums, percussion and electronics and Pete Judge on trumpet and electronics).

So what about the dancers? That Råmon has been able to harmonise a diverse group in such a short time is not simply the fortuitous outcome of an audition process. Råmon has built into the creative process a seven-week preparatory period for the dancers prior to the production period in order, as she writes in the program, ‘to improve (the dancers’) physical potential in the creative process and to reduce the risk of injury.’ Apart from working as a choreographer, Råmon is a consultant in dance science and a cranio-sacral therapist, both of which inform this caring and holistic approach to resolving the challenge of bringing freelance dancers together for a short burst of creativity, and it shows. Each dancer brings his or her exceptional qualities to the stage, but the harmony of their interaction in Råmon’s choreography is tangible.

Since Beyond the Body is an investigation into what makes us human, there is not so much a narrative as a series of episodes based on the qualities of each dancer. Karol Cysewski is The Wanderer, Tilly Webber The Seeker, Noora Kela The Shaman, Daisy Natale The Runner, and Hal Smith is The Creator. From the opening, breathing calm, each dances out his or her respective qualities enhanced by Collingswood’s visual design. The dancers are centred, concentrated, focusing on internal process rather than out into the audience. Noora Kela dances a duet with her disembodied shadow projected on to a filmed forest backdrop (by Collingswood and Bill Mitchell) that reminds me of David Hockney’s giant screen experiments; it is as if we are in the forest, and Kela performs on the forest floor stepping carefully through the leaves as the light filters through the branches. During her dance, the other four enter at each of the four corners of the stage, hemming her in: overtones of the Chosen One, but she is left alone in the darkening forest, rolling over to start a second solo that is angular and seems to stretch in all directions. There is a lightness and clarity to her dancing, which is a pleasure to watch.

In the next episode, Natale is followed on stage by a shadow of smoke, or a projected ink pattern that seems tied to her feet. Natale has a lovely fluidity of movement and ecstatic poses. Cysewski follows, projecting less of The Wanderer here and more of an enforcer, prone to sudden spurts of movement — almost violent —that appear to control Natale. Smith embodies the calmness and majesty of the Creator as he sits in meditation alone, eyes closed, with very slow arm gestures. Drops of light fall on him and flow away. He moves through the state of calmness to intense trembling when the drops of light increase exponentially as if energy is emanating from his core being. The quartet arrives like a chorus from which Webber detaches herself, dancing expressively with softness rather than angularity. She melts to the ground in fourth position, then stands, turns and sways, generating ripples of light that become the projected mandala. She walks around the rim of the mandala, then to the centre where she starts an energetic finale to drum accompaniment. Natale joins in with swirling arms, then Cysewski and Kela. Smith walks to the centre with one hand on top of the other as if holding something precious. Once inside the mandala, however, the movement phrases owe more to disco than to the esoteric. Smoke is projected, the mandala turns as the dancers pump up the energy, expanding, jumping and turning in a visually rich painting of light and movement before the dancers finally come to rest as the ripples of light expand in the silence and the dark.

There is clearly more than meets the eye in Beyond the Body; the creators and dancers have entered this inside-out creativity and produced a work that opens up new ground. It is based on the dancers — their spiritual and physical wellbeing — rather than on building up a formal performance. It is thus a work about the process, and if on the way it becomes a tad self-conscious there is also at times a powerful symbiosis between concept, movement and lighting that makes the creative journey rich and fruitful.