Dance review: Candoco – The Show Must Go On
Candoco joyously play on the edges of dance in this revival of Jérôme Bel's 2001 work
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.