It’s unlikely that a contemporary show really digs into my thinky-box anymore. Gone are the days when every movement on stage spoke directly to my inner-child, and lost is the wonderment caused when a piece of set would fly-in from the ceiling. No, 2015 belongs to the discrete, to the practitioners that make you think again without you even realising it. On April’s Friday the 17th, I got to be one of the lucky few who saw Candoco’s achieve this with The Show Must Go On.
Since beginning their tour in 2001, Candoco Dance Company have taken a set of 20 performers all across the country to ignite a new fire for minimalist dance in the UK’s cultural heart. The show’s actual performance is a simple blend of musical smash hits (including the likes of Bowie, Celine Dion and West Side Story) with ninety minutes of fervent movement and cultural expression. The dancing itself, which seems almost unchoreographed, speaks mesmerising wonders too when the entire cast moves as one – purely because it just looks like… well, fun. Everyone on stage just moves to their heart’s content, and even the uber-creepy ‘broken-record’ movements to I Like to Move It, Move it managed to make me smile like a child again.
Now I will be the first to admit that the cast’s disabilities were a notable factor in my enjoyment. Among the ensemble was an array of conditions that were obviously very personal to the company. But you know what? After 10 minutes, every person on stage was attacking that beat so hard that I forgot to even notice. In fact I remained unaware right up until the very end, when the house-lights came up and the performers stared back at us.
In previous pieces, the company has been a lot more ‘in-your-face’ about each performer’s abilities. But what made me love this work so much was how vague they were. The empty spaces gave us time to think, and the range of performers only made the concept all the more accessible: We all love music and dance, but they can truly free you if you learn to just let go. And as a result, Candoco is now in my favourite dance company.
It takes other companies masses of set, projections, lights and sweat to make an audience think, but these 20 performers did it with just a bare stage and CD player, making The Show Must Go On a must-see. The fact that every member of the company committed to not caring about what they looked like – which is a strong message in itself when discussing disabilities – was, at the fear of sounding soppy, inspiring. Thanks to Candoco, I am now inspired to make a big a fool of myself. Whenever possible. At every party I ever attend (not to mention the fact I also picked up some dance moves for my own use). I’ll definitely be keeping a look out for Candoco’s future work, and I’d advise you to join me.