Edinburgh Fringe 2022
After observing young children in parks, streets and squares, five diverse and talented performers identically reproduce the natural movements generated by the pure, intense and devouring curiosity and inexhaustible thirst for learning and playing. Seeing that gulf that separates the inventive bodies of toddlers from our serious, useful and too-precise adult gestures, the quintet wonders, where has our taste for adventure and experimentation gone? Maybe We Should be Dancing? A genuinely heart-warming experimental, comical docu-drama about creative power, joy and freedom. You’ll want to run around like the crazy child you never stopped being.
Someone peers around a curtain and disappears. Another wanders onstage, stops, turns around and leaves or looks at us. Performers arrive, move their bodies in seemingly free yet awkward actions and then repeat the movement – and leave again. This curious experience breaks our expectations of a dance show – and now we are in the moment watching every little movement without trying to figure out what is happening.
Astute observations of young children playing outside on the part of Emilienne Flagothier, the director of the group of five dancers from Belgium have culminated in this piece of part dance and part theatre. It’s a fascinating idea and an inspired starting off point for theatrical enquiry into physical expression.
By analysing the movement of children from videos taken in streets and playgrounds Flagothier directed the performers to recreate the stance, angles of arms, legs and feet and movement dynamics of the children.
The piece continues with each section of practice and demonstration followed by several video clips projected on a large background screen that show a series of children playing. Therefore, we see how their original movement precisely recreated by each performer. What is interesting is how these abstract movements show how free children are when just being themselves playing – and how less free we become as grown ups.
The first half of the piece shows this process in various stages and then they develop variations of the movements transitioning to organised formations, which is fascinating. Classical music plays while each performer runs their sequence of idiosyncratic movements, then groups form and they join in with excerpts of sequences moving in unison across the stage.
Suddenly, we see and appreciate this organic technique to create abstract choreography with spatial variety as the movement flows in different directions, textures and speeds. The choreography is grounded, unpredictable, with wonderful moments of duos, groups and solos creating patterns across the floor.
The five performers are consistent in their movements from observations and straddle the dancer actor performance skills needed for this piece very successfully. In addition, the characters and performers interact with truth and natural humour, which is compelling. Flagothier has created an imaginative and original piece that is worthwhile seeing.