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Edinburgh Fringe 2017

Skin

201 Dance Company

Genre: Dance, Hip hop, LBGT Theatre, Physical Theatre

Venue: Pleasance

Festival:


Low Down

“A boy’s journey through gender transition. Fusing urban and contemporary styles with an original score, award winning choreographer Andrea Walker directs a cast of seven dancers in a fast paced, emotionally driven story of identity and belonging.”

Review

Seven dancers from the award-winning 201 Dance Company, tell the poignant story of gender transition. From the present to flashbacks to the past we meet a young girl who feels like she is not in the right body. This is a journey from realization to discovery. Told through physical theatre, hip-hop and breakin’ dance it’s a beautifully staged and perform show.

Andrea Walker Director and choreographer, melds hip-hop and urban dance into a gutsy rhythmic dynamic, with elegance. The look and feel of the piece is very appropriate with an interesting mise-en-scène of placement in the space. Lighting is constrained, contributing to shadowy scenes, dark edges of the space and wonderfully warm yellow lighting in a tender scene.

The quality of the dance is excellent. Ensemble numbers of four dancers are strong and contribute to the storytelling by circling the main character or as a quartet. They seem to be like a modern version of a Greek chorus, giving a point of view that influences the character or expresses inner thoughts, dreams, hopes and fears.

The story is interspersed with several scenes with a young girl and her parents. These are sweet moments and show the parents’ love for their child. Many of the interactions of the family are enacted through physical theatre. It’s excellent, the movement is precise and economic and says exactly what it means to say, without being overdone. In addition, a young girl of about ten to twelve years of age plays the child, and she is very natural, knows her way about the stage and is spot on – wonderful!

Michaela Cisarikova plays the main character. She is equally at home as an actor with a natural emotional range and as a dancer of contemporary and hip-hop movement. There are several crossover scenes when we see the young girl as a child and the older version as a trans man together, which are poignant and not over sentimental. Rather they are important and very interesting moments in his life and they show how his decision is impactful to him, his family and his future.

There is wit and tenderness in this story, such as in one fascinating scene when he is a young child standing with his father, identifying with how the father is standing, then mimicking him in the way he moves. It is quite a moment and one that must happen, often during the young lives of people who feel that they are not in the right skin or body. It’s a very impactful image and feels so authentic yet painful as we empathize at the same time.

The original music, composed by Ross Allchurch, is vibrant and filmic complementing the physical storytelling well. There are some abstract soundscape sections as well as the rhythmic beat of music. Lighting designer, Norvydas Genys creates the mood for this show with dramatic lighting often highlighting small groups or individuals in silhouette to good effect.

Skin is a combination of dance, movement and dance theatre, it is an inspired and inspiring piece that is creative, dynamic and tender.

Published