Throwback avant-garde modernism
This article is from 2015.
At times in this experimental, and occasionally quite camp, late-night fever dream by Bristol’s Impermanence Dance Theatre, it seems as if they’ve been wholly struck by a batty and possibly unholy rapture. The seven Rambert-trained performers are trying to take us to places – let’s call it throwback avant-garde modernism – which most other companies can’t, or maybe wouldn’t want, to go. But for it to work you have to want to go there too. Sometimes I did.
Impermanence’s source of inspiration is a 1930 ‘collage-novel’ by German painter, poet and Dada movement pioneer, Max Ernst, called A Little Girl Dreams of Taking the Veil. This highly self-conscious, hallucinatory production was collectively devised, each performer echoing Ernst by taking responsibility for a minute or so of choreography, with all the pieces then stitched together. An episodic, oddball patchwork straddling the crossroads of kitsch and high art, it’s either brave, or foolhardy, or both.
Riddled with sexual and religious symbolism, it features big music (and movement to match) and lots of costume changes. Many sections are totemic and ceremonial, others somewhat amateurishly throwaway, and still others pseudo-exotically silly or subtly poetic. What I liked, and what might stick, is the sense of heroic havoc.
Zoo, 662 6892, until 31 Aug (not 17), 10.15pm, £10 (£8).