Pros: Cheeky and creative, and pushes boundaries beyond what any average punter would expect of an evening’s entertainment.
Cons: In its quest to prove the occasional pretention of art, the piece does present its own air of pretention (most probably the point).
I had no idea what to expect from a show entitled Naïve Dance Masterclass. However, it quickly became clear that it wasn’t dance but rather the unexpected at every turn.
Matt Rudkin lectures his audience as an ex-contemporary dance star who sheds the shackles of performance perfection to become a police officer. Upon being tempted back to the movement game after falling in love with a hula-hoop performance artist, he escapes the force to be a (starving) star of the streets. Of course, for every artist there must come inspiration from tragedy. From the deportation of Matt’s love, Olga, by his ex-policing partner Tony, springs Matt’s own dance form, ‘Naïve Dance.’ The audience is treated to three demonstrations of Matt’s dance pieces, each presented in decreasing amounts of quirky costuming.
The dance form turns out to be nothing more than mildly rhythmic flapping and wiggling, into which he later narrates deeper meaning and references. One cannot help but laugh at Rudkin’s ridiculousness and in so doing, his good natured ribbing of the sometimes ridiculous nature of the world of ‘high art.’
Despite poking fun at the pretention of some alternative art forms, Rudkin’s third demonstration of Naïve Dance, ‘Flesh’, flirts dangerously with its own ostentation as Rudkin begins the performance entirely in the nude, bar an elaborate First Nation’s head dress.
Luckily the piece is interrupted (or so we think) by the re-introduction of his lady love, who has saved herself from deportation by getting herself knocked up by Rudkin’s ex-police partner (who, if I didn’t mention before happens to be a rabbit). Olga returns to Matt in the hopes that they can be one happy family – this is when things actually get weird.
What follows is Rudkin’s coming to terms with the fact that he was betrayed by his colleague and his ladylove as well as the fact this his self-devised dance from is ‘shit’ (as pointed out by Olga). This is accomplished by an awe-inspiring ‘duet’ between Olga and Matt. It is meant to look like a man trying to pick up a woman who has blacked out, but is actually an impressive piece of acrobatic choreography: puppetry in the form of a nude Matt Rudkin ‘mini-me’ marionette; a rather intense birthing scene; and a happy ending complete with a giant alcoholic pining rabbit.
It sounds chaotic – and it is – but somehow it works. Wonderfully, it is a narrative not completely of this world that is allowed to be not entirely logical and is perhaps as liberating for the audience as for the performer. Sewn together with humour, irony and talent, it might not be until afterwards that one realizes that the Naïve Dance Masterclass is just a little bit mind blowing.