Pros: The choreography is varied and the performers are a real treat to watch.
Cons: Can be difficult to follow for those not used to dance narratives.
I don’t know an awful lot about modern dance. I’m more or less equally at home in the physical theatre department. As luck would have it, Gone to Get Milk/ Women’s Tales operates somewhere on the border between these two genres, so as you can probably imagine I felt a bit out of my depth on my way to review this show. Fortunately choreographer Ieva Kuniskis’ double bill proves to be a delight for the uninitiated just as well as for those more knowledgeable of both genres.
Gone to Get Milk is a twenty-five minute piece in which three flatmates find themselves stuck in the daily grind of domestic life. While they desperately try to fight the boredom and escape their routine, they also rediscover the comforts of the familiar. The fragmented piece certainly has moments that will be recognisable to anyone who has ever felt bored out of their skull. Personally I’ve never tried to pull myself off the floor by the corner of my mouth, but I get the feeling that’s behind it. Other scenes I was less sure about. Why was there a guy doing a waltz with an orange tucked under his chin for example? This lack of understanding frustrated me at first, but about ten minutes into the show I simply decided to stop worrying about ‘getting it’ and to just enjoy the movement and the music. The choreography ranges from funny to sensual to charmingly awkward, the highlight being a highly acrobatic game of pass the orange.
In the twenty-minute long Women’s Tales four women each tell their personal story. What exactly these stories are I’m afraid I couldn’t tell you: finding a narrative in this piece would take someone more versed in modern dance than I. Again, however, simply watching the performers move about the stage was a pleasure in itself. Although the movements are at times quite similar in style to Gone to Get Milk, this piece is less down to earth, and feels more like a religious ritual. The dancers cut their way through the haze with forceful, repeated motions, almost like people suffering from OCD. The effect is arresting and strangely hypnotic.
At the end of both performances, I acknowledged that I didn’t get everything out of the show that, presumably, was in it. However, as I’ve experienced before, you don’t necessarily need to understand art to savour it. With talented dancers, atmospheric music, a simple but effective set and a varied choreography, just sitting back and letting it wash over you is no hardship at all. Kuniskis is certainly a talented choreographer and the Blue Elephant Theatre continues to prove its worth as a fringe venue in London that nurtures upcoming artists across genres.
Choreographer: Ieva Kuniskis
Sound Design: Peter Humphrey
Box Office: 020 7701 0100
Booking Information: 9th May 2014
Booking Link: http://www.blueelephanttheatre.co.uk/ieva-kuniskis-double-bill