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Production

Blind Date


Company

Bill T. Jones / Arnie Zane Dance Company

Reviewer

Stephanie Burridge

Date

02/06/2007

Time

8.00pm

Place

Esplanade Theatre

Rating

****1/2

Arms Around The World

Blind Date by New York’s Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company left the audience wanting more, despite being bombarded with confronting, in-your-face video images, texts and dance that covered everything from religion and war to patriotism and power. It was all pulled together with wit, wisdom and inspired direction from Jones, the veteran master of political dance theatre.

Jones opened (and closed) the show by strolling casually with a cigarette, saying that he “will give up”. This act of both addiction and rebellion set the scene for the action that followed, as the dance-theatre piece rolled out real and metaphoric examples of falling in line and following the leader. Games such as the trust exercise, where someone calls out “Me!” and falls while the others have to run to catch him, provided examples of how trust and patriotism can be built. Military boot camp-style drills also illustrated the bonding that builds collective goals through shared physical training.

The military theme included the telling of soldiers' stories, for example, that of Richard, the Sitting Duck, a poor man who advertises for a hamburger chain wearing a duck uniform with a large duck head, only to be lured into serving the United States army in a different capacity (and uniform). Duck images were a recurring motif of the piece and it was heartbreaking when a blood-soaked duck cut-out was wheeled across the stage as a final image to represent Richard.

Another memorable scene had the dancers in an energetic reel while Jones sang an old sea shanty which was a mother’s lament over how her son had returned from the war with both legs blown off by a cannon. The song embodied the age-old links between man and war, and how ironic it was that we could dance to a tune and ignore its message. The song’s lyrics and a myriad of other scenes were projected on multiple video screens, including texts in various languages, faces, duck cartoons and pure colour frames that were all layered together to create a multi-sensory experience.

The extraordinarily athletic dancers made every moment count, as they leapt, rolled, sang and marched to the beat of this powerful, image-laden dance-theatre production. The dancing went from pure contemporary with extended lines and graceful transitions to hip-hop and military-style callisthenics. Rhythmic drumming energised the performers; dancer-musician Akim "Funk" Buddha contributed throat singing, vocals and percussion, as well as a reminder that we live in a global world.

It was a night of powerful, challenging dance theatre that truly reflected on the dilemmas of the contemporary world from an intensely human perspective. The onslaught of imagery, combined with the live music and dance on stage, made the work not only engrossing but also, in a sense, claustrophobic – there was no escape or reprieve. The audience became enmeshed in the work and joined the struggle on stage as citizens of the world that were experiencing the same post-September 11 traumas as the dancers on stage. This level of engagement resulted in a shared grief for the state of the world, and a shared responsibility. It was a rare, compelling theatrical force.


"It was a night of powerful, challenging dance theatre that truly reflected on the dilemmas of the contemporary world from an intensely human perspective."

Credits

Choreography and Direction: Bill T. Jones

Original Text: Bill T. Jones and The Company

Dancers: Bill T. Jones, Andrea Smith, Asli Bulbul,
Leah Cox, Maija Garcia, Shaneeka Harrell, Shayla-Vie Jenkins, Wen-Chung Lin, Erik Montes, Charles Scott, Donald C. Shorter, Jr. and Stuart Singer.

Original Music and Arrangements: Daniel Bernard Roumain

Throat Singing, Vocals and Percussion: Akim “Funk” Buddha

Video Design: Peter Nigrini


More Reviews by
Stephanie Burridge

 

Ratings out of 5, based on Practitioner's Vision / Reviewer's Response: ***** = Transcendent / Rapturous;
**** = Crystal / Appreciative; *** = Transmitted / Thoughtful; ** = Vague / Unsatisfied; * = Uncommunicated / Mystified.