Monday 26 September 2016

Let's dance . . . Wallflower recalls our shape-throwing days

Maggie Armstrong

Published 26/09/2015 | 07:00

A member of the cast of Wallflower
A member of the cast of Wallflower

Wallflower has begun before we enter the theatre. People stand around laughing as they try to remember dances they once danced.

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The mood is deceptively informal: the stage is opened out and stripped back to a plastic roll-up red carpet, you just notice two discarded stilettos.

One by one, Quarantine's three performers dance us into their past and tell a story. They re-enact ballet class, an anti-Apartheid march, a rave. The task director Richard Gregory gave them the task of remembering all the dances they've ever danced flowed into what they've coined as "performing remembering".

The result is a dizzying sequence of shape-throwing. Less open mic, than open boogie. A DJ plays tracks at each one's beck and call and lights their stage - making spine-chilling use of a mirror ball - and a note-taker records each dance in an "archive".

By Wallflower's Irish premiere, they were on 796 dances and counting.

The hour makes for an emotional cross-conversation with music. Words are few and improvised, letting us relax in an eclectic juke-box from North African folk to dubstep to the Rolling Stones. Some dances are more mimes - pancake-flipping, lovers' tiffs.

An account of one dance that went horribly wrong is especially moving.

However, we aren't certain where we stand. Dressed down, these likeable players sit with the audience and respond warmly to heckles. Their enjoyment is contagious, though they keep the boundaries firm and don't invite anyone to join them.

The introverted nature of the project leaves us unsure what to take home. Start remembering dances?

It hangs on how much you want to revisit that time you broke it on down.

Irish Independent

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