Dance review: Candoco – The Show Must Go On (4 stars)

Candoco joyously play on the edges of dance in this revival of Jérôme Bel's 2001 work

Review: Candoco: The Show Must Go On

Jérôme Bel is associated with the French choreographic movement known as ‘non-dance’, an attempt to use movements from outside traditional dance techniques, while Candoco is one of the UK’s most celebrated companies working with disabled and non-disabled performers. In reviving The Show Must Go On, Bel’s 2001 work which is often held up as an exemplar of his ‘non-dance’, Candoco explores both the intellectual limits of what counts as dance, and offers a joyous reflection on how popular music shapes memories and experience.

The format is simple: a DJ plays 19 pop tracks – some in darkness, some with no dance accompaniment and one for his own solo – and the ensemble of 20 respond. Through simple sequences – notably a recreation of the melodramatic prow scene from Titanic – Bel’s choreography illustrates the emotional current of each song.

While Bel is clearly provocative – he demands that the performers confront the audience, and disabilities are never hidden – the dance is humorous and playful. The detritus of 1990s pop is re-examined and found fresh and emotive, and the cast are never less than precise and charismatic.

Without ever losing a sense of fun, Bel does question how little movement can pass as dance – there are entire songs in which the company stand in line, watchful – and what counts as performance rather than social dance ('I Like To Move It' becomes a hilarious disco, with each dancer finding their personal signature groove). But the warmth and compassion of Bel’s approach – enhanced by the dynamic and charming cast – makes this show more than an intellectual exercise but a meaningful expression of non-dance’s potential for exhilarating entertainment.

Reviewed at Tramway, Glasgow on Fri 22 May.

Candoco Dance Company/Jerome Bel: The Show Must Go On

The renowned contemporary dance company of disabled and non-disabled performers presents a restaged version of Jerome Bel's award-winning The Show Must Go On, bringing together a UK-wide cast of 20 performers, 19 pop songs and one DJ.


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