Brighton Fringe 2010
The Fully Functioning Individuals from Impact Dance Company present a roller-coaster ride of solos, duets and ensemble dance pieces encompassing street, hip hop, contemporary movement and physical theatre. Xtreme Circumstances at the Freerange is part of a national tour.
I had seen Impact some years ago and had remembered their work as exciting, invigorating and above all, life enhancing. But feeling that I would be out of place as a middle aged woman in the crowd of street-wise, urban yoof and being unable to rally my teenage nephews as cover, I was thrilled when the opportunity to skulk under my reviewer’s hat came up as my excuse to join in the fun. I wasn’t to be disappointed – and in fact, because there was such a range of ages in the audience and because the company are so inclusive and engaging, I would be happy to become a regular.
So – having just ruined their street credibility, I’d better quickly expand…or better still quote their profile. ‘The company, based in Finchley, North London is essentially made up of amateurs, drama students and "resting pro’s". Impact prides itself on being a community orientated group and never turning anyone away, providing they are enthusiastic and willing to have a go.’
And I felt that their fantastic show completely embodied that ethos.
This group of highly talented performers really know their stuff. The commitment, focus and raw energy that exploded around the stage made the atmosphere in the cavernous dome fizz with sheer exuberance. These people need to dance, but where that can sometimes be a one way action, these dancers’ generosity and openness enable us to be in on the act – to understand what it is they’re communicating about street life, being disenfranchised, being controlled and taking control.
But all of these themes were explored with such positivity – a clownish conductor/puppeteer orchestrating the movements of a fluorescent-tutu clad group who eventually overwhelm him and take on the conducting themselves was beautifully conceived. Another piece set in a department store exploring when mannequins go bad was a hilarious narrative about gender.
The company use humour wisely – a hoody wearing girl comes on stage and throws up publicly, almost proudly into a bucket. But the dark portrayal of events spiral drunkenly out of control as she’s surrounded by shadowy figures taking advantage of her. At times she’s part of the group, at others, she’s overwhelmed until, pockets emptied, she starts an enfeebled fight back. Spurred on by the lyrics ‘have the strength to keep on going, do not believe in quitting’, she subjects her attackers to a Heroes-style annihilation.
This is a 21st Century show based firmly on classical themes – the weak get stronger through resilience, goodness prevails,- even to the extent that one of the performers was invited on stage to talk about his experience of working as a dancer. ‘If you have a passion, never be afraid to follow your dream.’ By this time I almost feel I’ve wandered into a motivational team building course, but I just can’t muster the cynicism. We are being invited to follow our dreams by a group of hugely entertaining, inspiring and talented people, evangelical in their wanting us to join in the fun.
I leave feeling that if you could bottle Impact, you’ve probably found the secret to eternal youth. I strongly recommend this company to anyone who feels despairing about the youth of today, to anyone who knows what it’s like to have a dream. In fact, I strongly recommend them to anyone.