Hamilton Fringe 2016
Two young contemporary dancers, all in white. A hand is placed delicately on a breastplate. And suddenly, everything becomes okay.
In England, we call them brackets. You know, the curvy characters you put at the beginning and end of a relevant but essentially superfluous side thought (I use them all the time (in fact, I sometimes get accused (mainly just by myself) of over-using them), though I’ll try to avoid the temptation of relying on them too heavily in this review), the rule being that the sentence should still make perfect sense if everything between the parentheses was removed.
There are two curvy characters in this show too, though what passes between them is far from superfluous. Their names are Lisa Emmons and Mayumi Lashbrook – young contemporary dancers with an electric connection both with each other and with their audience.
The programme notes give all sorts of clever interpretations for what the company themselves think the piece is about. But, like the paragraph of description next to a work of modern art, I prefer to ignore it, and make my own mind up. What I saw was one dancer (Lisa) bringing the other (Mayumi) to life, through a gentle laying on of hands to the solar plexus. Once awakened, the two ducked and curved and carved the space independently at first, then their movements suddenly unified (the first of several magical moments crammed into this 20-minute piece). And then, extraordinarily, it was our turn to get involved. No, I don’t mean we were invited up to dance, although by the end we may well have been up for it. Mayumi, having been given the gift of life herself, then gave the gift to us. She singled out several audience members (my wife and I were both honoured), came within thirty centimetres of our faces, stared deep into our eyes (very deep, and with a genuinely moving sincerity), and gave us the same solar plexus treatment, reviving and enlivening us the way she had been. And it worked – I was not the same person before as after. For me, then, the show was about spreading the gift of life and love, and an invitation for me to go out into the world and spread further the gift that the piece had given me. I can’t dance – certainly not like these girls can – but I’m inspired to find my own way.
(I saw a special performance. Apparently not all of their shows at this Fringe were accompanied by live music by “Trevor” or live video projection by “Andrew” (surnames unknown), but both added tangibly to proceedings. Trevor twanged his discordant guitar rhythms and embraced his amplifier’s feedback with a sensitivity that always placed the dancers at the forefront. And the video – a live projected feed of the dancers on the back wall, presumably deliberately warped and distorted – inadvertently drew the eye towards the dancers’ shadows on the same wall, and we were thus given six for the price of two. This paragraph is in parentheses, though, because the show would have survived excellently without these elements, and I can therefore highly recommend ‘unspecial’ performances just as confidently.)
(Parentheses) may be a short piece, but it has bucket-loads of heart. The dancers are fantastic, and I would not for the world have passed up the wealth of well-being they’ve bestowed upon me this afternoon. Though my day may have made sense if everything between these parentheses was removed, it would have been much poorer as a result.