Company Chordelia's Dance Derby set to tour Scotland

Fascinating insight into how financial depression drove 1930s Americans to gruelling dance marathons

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Company Chordelia's Dance Derby set to tour Scotland

Lack of sleep, physical exhaustion, blisters, the ever-present risk of public humiliation – today they’re the consequences of a drunken night on the town. But in 1930s America, it was a very different kind of dance floor that brought about such things.

Demonstrating the physical and mental torture endured by dance marathon competitors, Dance Derby is a fascinating insight into how a financial depression drives people to desperate measures.

‘Dance marathons started out as competitions for people to win money,’ explains choreographer Kally Lloyd Jones, ‘and one of the reasons people entered them, is it gave them a roof over their heads and they got fed. But the competitions got more and more brutal over time.’

Working closely with the dancers, Lloyd Jones came up with a number of three dimensional characters to populate the show: the young man and his heavily pregnant wife, the older couple, the competitive, media-savvy duo to name but three. Accompanied by a live jazz band and singer, the dancers gradually deteriorate from energetic to barely functioning.

‘Everybody worked on their own relationships and backgrounds,’ says Lloyd Jones of the rehearsal process. ‘We had a giant map of the United States and decided where people came from and why they were competing. We also did lots of research, looking at images and films of the real people, and talked about how you might feel after dancing for a day, a week, six weeks. It was amazing, the dancers just became those people.’

macrobert, Stirling, Wed 22 Oct then touring.

Company Chordelia: Dance Derby

  • Directed by: Kally Lloyd-Jones

Company Chordelia recreate the gruelling dance marathon days of Depression-era America.

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