Queen Elizabeth Hall, London
The inspiration for this dance piece was taken from the poem Cao Sem Plumas by João Cabral de Melo Neto, a Brazilian poet born in January 1920. Deborah Colker Dance Company presents Dog Without Feathers, an incredible piece of dance which combines music, poetry, stark cinematography and a spellbinding dance ensemble.
From the moment the piece begins on the screen watching a young tribal boy walk through the mango groves, the performance quickly hooks your attention. The fast changing scenery and onstage performance morph with ease as they lead the audience through their journey.
As the entire cast is dressed in earth coloured skin effect style costume, the colour, creed and gender of each performer go undefined, allowing an autonomous free-flowing dance group. The audience is, therefore, watching the whole performance rather than being distracted by individuals.
The choreography by Deborah Hay has created an amazing onstage and off stage creation. With a fast-paced production, her vision on creating this piece leaves you wondering how someone could create such a perfect dance production.
On several occasions, the same dancer on the stage and on the screen create a mirror image performance. The timings and professionalism of these dancers left me in complete awe of their ability and precise attention to details.
During parts of the performance, the thumping bass of the music simulated a heartbeat as the dancer on stage is in sync with the dancer on the film and they move together at one with the changing demographics of the earth landscape.
The entire filmed section of the production was all in black and white. This was equally as important as the costume choice of the dancers. The audience were there to enjoy and be captivated by the skills of the dancers and by removing all colour and creating it in monochrome it made the subject the main focus.
The dancers who were performing on the dried out river bed must have found this to be enduring at times. As it was not only their feet that touched the hard unlevel surface but other parts of the dancer’s bodies. These sections must have been very challenging at times and their balance was never a step out of place.
The bleak baron dried out river beds gave the audience a concept of how badly the earth desired the rain and to become flowing once again. This was mirrored by the dancers who were matted up with mud or make up resembling mud. Close up on the screen the cracks forming on their faces with dried mud mirrored the river bed cracks.
One section of the performance that really stood out for me was towards the end. Two dancers a male and female performed what appeared to be a battle for dominance standoff. Each was balanced inside a wooden slated styled box which was being moved around the stage corner to corner by groups of the remaining dancers. The precision timing and expertise of each member meant they synchronized together perfectly ending up neatly next to one another by the end of the set.
Although the piece is based on the poem Cao Sem Plumas by João Cabral de Melo Neto it isn’t a vital part of the performance. It could easily be a stand-alone piece without any additional titles.
Running from 7th-10th May.
Queen Elizabeth Hall
Written on behalf of UKTW