Face In - Candoco Dance Company
Face In is a sensual and disturbing ode to intimacy and imagination, expressed through striking images interwoven with daring and uninhibited dance. Set to an urban indie score, Candoco invites you to bask in this wild fictional world that feels uncomfortably familiar yet strangely distorted. A world that Candoco's dancers inhabit with ease: dancing with pleasure, revealing the extreme of themselves and flirting with both the banal and the ridiculous.
Yasmeen Godder is an Israeli choreographer who makes work that is seductive, disturbing, potent and personal. Her work has been presented at venues and festivals worldwide, including Lincoln Center Festival, Tokyo International Festival, Sydney Opera House and Montpelier Dance Festival.
This new commission joins Candoco’s existing repertory and will be touring from autumn 2017 onwards.
Watch the trailer:
Go behind the scenes with Yasmeen Godder and Candoco's company dancers as they discuss the creation of Face In
CANDOCO DANCE at Laban
Let me say straight off that the performances by Joel Brown, Laura Patay, Olivia Edginton, Nicolas Vendange, Megan Armishaw, Toke Broni Strandby and Mickaella Dantas were exceptional, their physical dexterity combining with emotional honesty to bring to life two fine works of art.
The closing image of a single dancer using her two crutches to strike a pose resembling some species of surreal centaur was unforgettable.
Backed by a score from Joe Newman of cult indie rockers Alt-J, the dancers manhandled strange sheets of grey fabric, raised and lowered red and white ropes hung with carabiners and generally subverted traditional notions of disability. It was undoubtedly strange – but it was also, like Godder’s work, very beautiful.
Candoco Dance Company’s double bill features Face In, choreographed by Yasmeen Godder, and Hot Mess, by Theo Clinkard, both performed by Candoco’s seven extraordinary disabled and non-disabled dancers. Their performances are always outstanding, innovative works of art, and this was no exception.
Both halves of the show felt like being witness to an intimate mess of ambitions and movement, where seven friends explore their boundaries in a safe space. Both pieces, although vastly different, gave me the impression that I was spying on seven university mates exploring new party scenes or synthetics highs or physical environments together.
I think this effect is partly thanks to the wardrobe (which could be their own clothes?) and the score (drones to 90s industrial anthemic dance), but also thanks to the unique choreography and the strong bond very apparent between the dancers on stage.
Yasmeen Godder’s Face In is a game changer. Saying that this piece thinks outside the box is too tame. It’s a fabulous flux of choreography in pairs, with each dancer using their abilities and disabilities in totally unique ways.
You are aware of the missing limbs only for a moment. The four physically disabled company members give the idea of ‘imperfection’ a royal spit in the face. It is of course unsettling when a non-disabled dancer sits on the back of a disabled dancer – it feels uncouth and disconcerting. But why? These dancers are strong and fluid and beautiful, the same as their four-limbed, walking counterparts, and this company proudly makes no distinction.
I have three favourite moments: wheelchair user Joel Brown essentially does a wheelie to roll over the full length of a fellow dancer; Mickealla Dantas using her crutches as a machine gun, then a balance framework, then a farcical nose; and Olivia Edginton, suddenly alone on stage, hilariously zipping herself into her hoodie.
The dancers shift tremendously well through what feels like one rite of passage into the next. Funny faces are not a part of the performance… until suddenly there’s all out face pulling. Towards the end they seem to find such freedom, seen in the wild expressions and even wilder choreography.
The message I get from Face In is that we may despair, but there is always support. Face In is sensual and wild – an exercise in how to let go. And so much fun.
It’s a hard piece to follow – Hot Mess takes us somewhere entirely different. There’s no messing around, no soft intro this time, just straight in to the bizarre and the oddball (in the form of wrestling with paper). Our seven dancers are almost unrecognisable thanks to costumes, props, prosthetics and perhaps a shower.
Hot Mess often feels as if we’re witnessing an improv rehearsal. It’s out there, unscripted, and leaves us with more questions than answers. But the choreography is so comfortable and thought provoking; it is definitely not a rehearsal, just pretending to be one. They know this, so issue a manifesto to clarify their glorious madness a little:
Hot Mess shifts uncomfortably through 35 minutes, but it opens up a space in my heart by doing so, taking me somewhere new.
I think I had one eyebrow raised the whole evening.
Concept, Choreography & Direction: Yasmeen Godder
Dramaturg: Itzik Giuli
Set Design: Gareth Green
Lighting Design: Seth Rook Williams
Costume Design: Adam Kalderon
Sound Edit: Nathan Johnson
Music: The Night by Joe Colley and Jason Lescallee; Away from my Body by Brandt Brauer Frick (Live); Pretend by The Brandt Brauer Frick Ensemble feat Emika (Live at Concergebouw Brugge)
This piece is co-commissioned by: Festival Oriente Occidente and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance
Running Time: 30 minutes