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Edinburgh Fringe 2010


Jean Abreu

Genre: Dance and Movement Theatre

Venue: Zoo Roxy


Low Down

Muscular movement, tight choreography, live music and great staging makes Jean Abreu’s dance theatre piece, Inside, stand out from the crowd.


Inside is a raw, edgy visceral piece of dance theatre that positively bristles with pent-up masculinity. In his latest work, Jerwood Award winner, Jean Abreu looks at life inside a men’s prison. Backed by live music from 65daysofstatic and a starkly austere set enhanced by highly effective lighting, five outstanding male dancers explore the effects of incarceration on the human spirit.

Examining the relationship between prisoner and prison, between prisoner and society, Inside deals with power and control, masculinity and violence. While looking at life within prison walls, it probes deep into the dark places of the human psyche.

Jean Abreau’s dance is a highly charged mix of contemporary, martial arts and Latin American influences. His choreography is highly charged, full of restrained energy and control. The dancers’ movement is fluid and muscular, big cats endlessly stalking one another in caged frenzy

The five male dancers make wild runs across the stage. There are moments of heart-aching beauty where they crawl and cling to the floor or where one dancer slides along the floor at another’s feet, a manacled human soul. The dancers create walls all around them: they push at the edges of the stage, they dance as if their bodies form a box, pushing desperately at the edges.

No matter what they do, there is no escape either from the four physical walls or from their minds. Inside goes beyond the violence to find tenderness and hope, to find a redemptive force continually quashed by imprisonment.

65daysofstatic, a post-industrial glitch band, play live on stage behind the dancers. The calibration between dance and music is superb. It’s music that’s so loud, so bass-driven it enters your body and beats along with your heart, music that’s absolutely suited and soldered to the dance. Whether it’s a sharp drum-beat that makes it feel the bare foot dancers are tap-dancing or a thrashing guitar that echoes the anger or anguish of the dancers, music and dance are perfectly matched.

Dan Jone’s sound design is totally immersive, melding the two art forms perfectly to become one. The set is stark: a black box with the band behind bars. Swirling mist, dim lighting and projected bars provide an unobtrusive but utterly apt backing for the dance and music.

This is dance theatre of outstanding quality. All the elements come together to make this a totally enthralling experience that manages to be a thing of beauty while raising moral questions about whether dealing with the violence in our society by locking a door can in any way be rehabilitative or healing.