Companhia de Danca Deborah Colker: Cruel
It’s not unusual for a dancer to be part of the creative process, but usually that involves working out steps in the rehearsal studio. When Deborah Colker started researching her new show Cruel, however, she wanted her dancers to use their brains not their bodies.
‘To begin with Deborah gave us all a word like love, illusion, deception, blame,’ explains Carol Pagano, a dancer with Companhia de Dança Deborah Colker for many years. ‘And we all had to take this word away and think about what it meant in our personal lives.’ After much group discussion, one major theme emerged – family. Almost all the dancers spoke about unresolved issues with their parents, siblings and partners, giving Colker a rich subject matter to feed her choreography.
‘The show starts in a ballroom where everything is perfect,’ says Pagano. ‘We all find a partner and think we’ll have a wonderful relationship forever.’ Inevitably, this is not the case, and the story of four families unfolds, each with its own set of problems. As usual, Colker’s trademark theatrical staging is in full effect, with a giant table forming the centrepiece of the first half, replaced by mobile mirrors in the second, altering our perception of the 17 dancers.
Most intriguingly, Pagano’s character spends half the show dancing in one pointe shoe. She also closes this exciting, dramatic and sometimes emotional show with a meaningful smile to the audience. What’s the theory behind that?
‘I represent the woman who takes on all the family’s problems,’ she explains. ‘And the pointe shoe is like a scar, because it’s not all perfect in a family and a relationship. But I need to go on with these scars and all these problems, I can’t just say I don’t want this anymore. So the smile at the end conveys that even with all these problems, life is still beautiful and worthwhile. And I think everybody who sees Cruel can get involved and identify with what we’re talking about.’
Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Fri 21 & Sat 22 May