After extensive R&D last year in both Sweden and Scotland, this third project by the biannual dance group iCoDaCo, concerns communication. As dance is a language itself to be felt and understood, my interest in this conversation is strong.
On chairs edging the dance space, people chat and mutter waiting for the show, unaware that their gentle cacophony is the starting point. Now, three female and two male dancers join the talk. We all drop out as they convene. Each in a different tongue, they talk over each other with little effort made to engage. Hands reach out to cup another’s mouth. They all try to crush the dialogue of every other, wishing their words only supreme. No-one is listening, everyone’s talking. Pointless.
At a time when world affairs dialogue disturbs our consciousness, what we say and how we say it is a topic of utmost importance. International babel, hands on each other’s mouths to silence. Who has the right to speak, the right to mute?
The group weave and move in harmony now, then to silence then plain song. The revelation of Eddie Ladd’s fine singing voice is unexpected, bringing with it gifts of serenity.
Gwyn Emberton lying centre floor. “Somebody ask me a question!” he calls out. A few non-consequential queries are asked and dismissed by Gwyn with a shake or a twitch. Like the game of charades, as questions from the company get warmer we learn more about what’s on Gwyn’s mind as his unspoken responses grow more exacting. His inquisitors hone in on a traumatic experience and we learn how the body struggles to speak when the tongue simply can’t.
A strong, physical dancer, Israel Aloni of Sweden is a vigorous, powerful presence. Performing a demanding solo, he is mighty in twists, turns and dips.
“Stop!” shouts the Finnish Johanna Nuutinen. He obeys and she attaches his left thigh to wrist with parcel tape.
His expression has been stunted slightly but he soldiers on.
“Stop!” More tape. “Continue!”
He is eventually completely thwarted. Tape covered and censored to immobility.
A couple, his hand over her mouth, dance in each other’s faces. The experience of universally bitter, perhaps abusive arguments, repeatedly move in this manner.
So many clever explorations of communication and the art of compromise. We have a singing bear. Oh yes we do. The bear, Eddie, then tells a story of her mother tongue being dismissed in her own country. The fatigue of old battles still having to be fought.
For elegance, a duet section featuring Johanna and Israel steps strongly beyond the quirk of allegory to flood the senses in a wave of awe and beauty. A couple try to dance, to live harmoniously but the norm won’t cut it. Several times, they shape up to go into “hold”, but always swiftly back out with a whiff of embarrassment. This is a compact description of relationship quandaries and the tricky compromises when joining as a couple but wanting no loss of personal identity.
The company return now to where they began. Five in a circle feverishly talking but this time, each has a new interest in the other. From here and with drums pounding, a thrilling ensemble piece has them move and jump diagonally as one, crouching and leaping with a combined energy. See? Shared communication achieves results. Lose a bit to gain a lot.
What a complex, multi-layered subject to tackle. Rich for exploration and richer for iCoDaCo’s discoveries. Dance was the only satisfactory way to work through these massive questions. Words, although endlessly multifarious, are left wanting compared to the voluminous lexicon of the body. I am so happy that I saw this great production.
Y FENNI / ABergavenny – Chwefror 10 February – 7.30
DANCE CENTRE, PEN-Y-POUND, ABERGAVENNY NP7 5UD
BOX OFFICE: 01873 855544 / WWW.DANCE-BLAST.ORG
TREFALDWYN / Montgomery – Chwefror 11 February – 7.30
MONTGOMERY TOWN HALL, BROAD STREET MONTGOMERY, POWYS
BOX OFFICE: 01686 614555 / WWW.THEHAFREN.CO.UK
Aberystwyth – chwefror 13 february – 7.45
Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Penglais Campus, Aberystwyth SY23 3DE
Box Office: 01970 623232 / https://aberystwythartscentre.co.uk/
HARLECH – chwefror 15 february – 7.30
THEATR ARDUDWY, Harlech LL46 2PU
Box Office: 01766 780 667 / www.theatrardudwy.cymru
CAERDYDD / Cardiff – Chwefror 17/18 february – 7.30
CHAPTER, 40 Market Road, Cardiff CF5 1QE
Box Office: 029 2030 4400 / www.chapter.org