Stephen McGinty & Daniel Pick, DanceBase x 4

Can’t believe I’ve left it three days to post these, clearly I’m not as organised as I thought I was!  This is the last batch of festival stories, because I’m off to start New Job tomorrow.  There may be the odd one or two events still trickling onto the blog, but nothing major.

I was only at one book festival event on Thursday, but it was a good one.

Stephen McGinty and Daniel Pick’s talk entitled ‘In Pursuit of the Nazi Mind’ turned out to be more subtle, and more interesting, in its subject than the initial description suggested. Their books talk about the attempts that psychologists and psychoanalysts made to understand Rudolf Hess (Stephen McGinty’s book) and Nazis in general (Daniel Pick’s book).  So we have the history of psychology as well as the history of the war.  The Rudolf Hess story sounds fascinating – the book focuses on the year that he was held in an English country house (apparently John Humphreys described it as ‘Upstairs Downstairs with Nazis’) with the psychologists trying to convert him to their point of view rather than interrogate him. Daniel Pick spoke about the changing views of historians about whether a psychoanalytical approach to their subjects is appropriate. Two more books to go on my reading list!  And their authors gave great, straightforward accounts of them.

I saw four dance pieces at DanceBase, but they are grouped into two shows – typically, the two I liked were in different programmes! MEITHEAL is the one I would really highly recommend. All are in the main theatre at DanceBase, and having been really rude about Studio 3 the other day, I have to say the theatre is one of the most pleasant and comfortable venues I’ve been to. Some quick comments on the dance pieces..

Fruitful Ties by Steinvor Palsson and Matthew Hawkins and Bone Dust by Lucy Suggate made up the first programme.

Fruitful Ties had the best costumes I’ve seen so far – they were actually made of ties! And there was something with lemons, so the title is very literal. Interesting to watch, and beautiful at times, but I didn’t entirely understand what they were on about. It was one of those events where I felt that other people were getting a lot more out of it than I was.

Bone Dust was a surprisingly thoughtful piece, given that its subject matter is the slightly surreal ‘how will I dance when I’m dead?’  I particularly liked the first section, where is appears that the dancer’s limbs are disembodied – very effective.  Then she appeared in a skeleton mask and I realised how much we always picture Death as male – seeing a skeletal head with a female body was a little disconcerting. There was a great wee monologue from the dancer about the choreography and a lovely, disconnected, loose-limbed dance with video piece. Really my one criticism was that it was pretty short – I’d have liked something more extended.

The second programme was MEITHEAL by MAX.IMEALLDANCE and Worst Case Scenario by Taciturn.

MEITHEAL was probably the strongest dance piece I’ve seen in this festival. It’s about manual work and community, and the dancers are described in the programme as ‘cogs in an efficient machine’.  But what I really loved was that they make a beautiful, graceful machine, not the stereotyped robotic movements that most people ‘dancing like machinery’ would come up with!  They look like a really gorgeous steam engine or something, something that you can really admire for how well it fits together.  The piece was gloriously physical and made fabulous use of light.  And I loved as well that the dancers were so connected with each other and the audience: again, they didn’t put on robot faces.  The whole piece was gorgeous.

Worst Case Scenario was one of these pieces that makes me think ‘I can see why other people are liking it, but it’s just not my thing’.  It’s a humorous piece about our worst fears, and it’s well done, but the whole silent-movie slightly slapsticky humour doesn’t really do it for me. The use of voice-overs and sound in general is good, and the dance is good, but just not at all what I like.

Note: I was given free tickets for all these events through Clicket. I will be blogging very little else for the remaining days of the festival, so do keep up with my fellow bloggers on the Clicket blog!

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