Dance review: Candoco – The Show Must Go On
- Gareth K Vile
- 26 May 2015
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.