Dance Marathon - Edinburgh show where audience provides the action
3-hour long participatory show inspired by They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?
This article is from 2011.
It’s over three hours long, inspired by that celluloid study of Depression-era desperation They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, and you, the audience, provide the majority of the action.
Doesn’t sound like a great night out on the surface, but Dance Marathon, by Canadian inter-disciplinary theatre collective bluemouth inc, has been hailed as an utterly joyous and revolutionary theatre experience. As the title suggests, it’s modelled on the dance marathons of the 1930s, where recession-hit couples would spend days, even weeks on their feet in cruelly manipulative endurance tests.
Dance Marathon’s audience members also become the contestants, guided through ballroom, tango, swing, disco and contemporary moves as a loose narrative begins to swell around certain competitors and judges. ‘We were interested in investigating worlds that involve dance, endurance, music and spectacle, and while researching, we found the dance marathons of the 1930s had so much in common with a world steeped in reality television.’
Intimidated? Don’t be. On entering the contest, you’re paired up with a partner (deliberately not anyone you arrived with, and possibly one of the secretly ‘embedded’ dancers who will reveal themselves during the course of the night), the lights are turned right down and the live funk band tune up for a ‘free dance’.
‘It gives everyone a chance to make the kinaesthetic switch from their brain to their body – this makes a big difference, let me tell you!’ Adams says. ‘The idea is to build an instant community. This show has taught us so much about the audience-performer relationship. It’s been an excellent experiment in the human experience. And the audience is always offered the chance to opt out right after the free dance: but so far only one person has!’
Traverse@Lyceum Rehearsal Room, 228 1404, 3–14 Aug (not 4, 8, 11), times vary, £17–£19 (£6–£13).