Preview: 5 Soldiers

Preview: 5 Soldiers

Choreographic combat from Rosie Kay Dance Company

The horrors of war has been depicted for centuries, through paintings, poetry and more recently, film. But when a damaged leg forced dancer and choreographer Rosie Kay to think about injury and recovery, it led to a new way of depicting combat.

Ten years in the making, 5 Soldiers is a microcosm of life in the Army – from training, to hanging out in the mess, to fighting on the frontline, and finally to rehabilitation.

Gaining access to the military for research purposes was Kay’s first challenge, and it was while convincing the Major General to support the project, that she first coined the phrase ‘war choreographer’.

‘I said to him, there are war poets, war photographers and war artists,’ says Kay, ‘but actually the medium of what you do in the Army is your body – that’s what you use, that’s what you train with. There’s so much talk about weaponry and technology but it’s still the body on the frontline, the body that gets harmed.

‘And as a choreographer, I’m going to have a different take on that from any other artist, be that visually or narratively.’

After spending a gruelling but fascinating time with an Infantry regiment, taking part in war-like situations on Dartmoor at 2am, Kay also visited hospitals where soldiers were recovering from time in Afghanistan.

All of which she poured into 5 Soldiers, a work which has been widely praised for its authenticity by Army personnel, and for its emotional impact by audiences in general.

‘I wanted to humanise something which has become very dehumanised,’ says Kay. ‘We see the uniform and the weaponry but we don’t think about the human being.

‘But it’s our politicians who send our troops to war, and we have a responsibility to engage in those decisions. It’s not an easy subject matter, but I’m a political choreographer and I want to make work that has a relevance to the world I’m living in.’

Tramway, Glasgow, Fri 29–Sat 30 Apr, then touring.

5 Soldiers

Highly physical piece by Rosie Kay Dance Company, looking at the effects of armed combat on the human body.