The Rooster and Partial Memory
Meaty, must-see all-male Palestinian / Lebanese power games plus a brief, moving autobiographical postscript
This article is from 2016.
It's the cock with the rope who wields the most power in The Rooster, a collaboration between Ata Khattab, of Palestine's El-Funoun Dance Troupe, and Malek Al Andary, of the Lebanese cultural organisations SHAMS and Marhabtain. Deceptively rough but exceptionally savvy, this charged piece of dance-theatre converts the popular Arab folk dance form dabke into a vehicle for dramatically juicy physical expression.
It also uses the characteristics of the rooster, known throughout the region as Al-Deek, to capture what could be deemed a fairly common male drive: to be the master of others. The five charismatic men in the cast respectively play sexy tyrant, glowering ruler, daring challenger, shrewd sadist and triumphant dreamer. Thought-inducing ambiguities grow directly out of clarity of intentions behind each of their performances. It's a must-see.
Although supported and shadowed by a second dancer, it is Khattab who takes centre stage in Partial Memory. A big fellow with a strong presence, in this short autobiographical work he embodies the raging wail of a child who grows up to be a fighter.
It isn't as fully-shaped as The Rooster, nor does it need the overly sentimental instrumental that swells up towards the end. Nevertheless it's a moving, postscript-like companion-piece.
Dance Base, until 14 Aug, 2.30pm, £12 (£10).