Thursday, 16 June 2016

Chaper 146: Blink Dance Theatre's Four Corners

The Four Corners of Blink Dance Theatre: Kat, Francis, Vicki and Delson
All photos courtesy of Travis

The doorbell rang the other day while I was in the middle of writing a letter of condolence, desperately missing a friend. I answered, bleary eyed, expecting just to sign for a parcel, for some lightbulbs or a piece of DIY perhaps, my husband is always tinkering. Instead I found Alex Glassbrook, the Liberal Democrat candidate for the Tooting by-election (today!) on my doorstep. Alex is a friend, and one of the most decent, reliable and honourable people I know, which is why, what with all his volunteering in politics, and my circus shenanigans, we haven't caught up for a while. Alex told me about his commitment to the local community and access for all, taught me to sign "Positive Liberal Future", which is even more beautiful than it sounds when expressed in physical language, and his visit lifted my day no end. 

The Four Corners in isolation
With thoughts of community and accessibility fresh in my mind, I went to the Lyric Hammersmith the next day to see Blink Dance Theatre's "Four Corners". I was last there in summer to see 35 Amici Drivea show that was all about a local community working together, battling eviction proposed by a  local "regeneration" project headed up by the sinister local MP Mrs Hatcher. It was a vibrant, moving, terrific evening and to read the blog post click here. Four performers from Amici have set up Blink Dance Theatre, providing opportunities for people with and without disabilities to create shows together, and I was looking forward to seeing their debut. Four Corners is so called because the show begins with four individuals in four separate corners, each distinguished by a signature colour. But no man is an island, and as the action progresses we see how their lives interconnect, and oh, what a web they weave as a comedy of errors, of inadvertent bag swaps and mistaken identities, leads them into a right tangle. Like all good farces, though, all's well that ends well, and the show finishes in a celebration of connections and community that extends to include the entire audience.

In the green corner: Delrose
First to take the floor was Francis, the mischievous Mr Loki last time round, and once again carrying off that twinkle and insouciant grin as he blithely ignored the all-too-polite-through-gritted-teeth reminders from Sarah in the office that really he should be coming into work. Dapper in his blue suit jacket and dark glasses, he dragged his heels, while his toes just wanted to tap. He was a superb street dancer, and had all the moves, some of which he would be trying out on Kat later in the evening, his peachy date. Kat was a clothes-mad fitness freak and there was plenty of mileage to be had from her training sessions with her trainer Delson, the ridiculous positions she endured for "overall toning". There was also fun to be had in the shopping excursion where she was engulfed in a confusion of apricot outfits, desperately trying to find something to wear for the big night with Francis later. Meanwhile Delson took refuge from his finger-wagging Mum by putting on his headphones and escaping into the park, where he could make an easy buck from training the likes of Kat. Also in the park was Vicki, clad in a spiritual purple, taking us on her own path to enlightenment via flashbacks from the diary she was reading,  later discovered by Delrose.

Vicki in purple, enlightening
Francis & Kat and a case of mistake identities
But that is just an overview of the plot. The real beauty was in the choreography, this was dance theatre after all, framed by Bulbet's superb live music and soundscape, and awash with colour, and attention to detail, in Ruta Irbite's design. What I loved was the way that the performers enabled each other's creativity, working with each other's physicality and their potential. The forms that they made were as beautiful as the relations described between them, sometimes playful, at other points moving, always touching. In a society where the word diversity is bandied around so frequently, to the point it has almost lost any meaningful value, here was a performance that embodied the concept originally. Each performer was on an equal footing in terms of how much the show depended on their unique talent, without glossing over the fact that sometimes there were limits, which we all have, and this was woven into the very fabric of the performance. Ultimately Four Corners was a show of communion, where four corners became one circle, and, as the audience were invited to join in the dance on stage at the end, we became a real community and my heart soared.

Blink Dance Theatre's Four Corners will be at the Hackney Empire, Studio 2, this Saturday, 18 June at 2pm and 7pm (7pm is BSL interpreted).

Performers: Delson Weekes, Vicki Hawkins, Kat Gill & Francis Majekodunmi
Designer: Ruta Irbite
Dramaturge Mentor: Mojisola Adebayo 
Producing Mentor: Tracey Gentles
Artistic Enabler: Rachel Gilda
Photographer: Travis

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