Trial & error: Sex, sass and foolishness through dance

For the concluding show of South East Dance’s micro-festival, Double Bill brings two short performances to The Old Market’s stage: Comebacks I thought of later by Eleanor Sikorski and Ode to the Attempt by Jan Martens.These two shows, presented to us on either side of an interlude, have been carefully curated to programme an evening of dance that represents the fallibilities of life.

High-heeled and in a pantsuit, we hear Eleanor approaching the lit centre-stage until she is made fully visible to us. Made quite menacing by the light hitting her straight down, we expect a serious turn of events for her performance. Then, Eleanor sets the scene in a serene, narrative voice: “There was a man and a woman in bed. She was wearing a t-shirt and knickers. He was still fully clothed”. As we patiently wait for the continuation of this story, Eleanor interrupts herself and derails her story by giving the audience some information of what she is doing. These series of self-interruptions are repeated. As these happen, the lights turn back up and we meet Eleanor face-to-face, quickly undermining any performer-audience hierarchy. Soon after, the performer receives a room full of laughter with humorous interceptions, sassy comebacks placed in imaginary settings and a song about her love for masturbation.

After the intermission, we return to witness Jan’s performance which diverts from the sexual themes of the previous piece; even when showcasing nudity, sex is neglected to leave movement the focus. Ode to the Attempt is a self-explanatory piece, exploring trial and error in an artistic, dancerly fashion. Preemptively laying out the 14 different steps that his performance will take, Jan uses movement as repetition in each stage to make an Ode to the Attempt. This piece can even be defined as autobiographical as the Belgian choreographer uses his working and living customs to explore how his brain works. By witnessing how he types out each of the steps on his computer, which we see projected on screen, we travel with Jan into the journey of how he will perform in front of us.

Double-Bill was an exploration of the power of movement and repetition to strongly define the way we think. By gesticulating in unconventional forms to achieve a point, classical ways of dancing are undermined. And movement is most paramount, whatever that entails. Witnessing three shows that embodied Undisciplined, I have been strongly assured of South East Dance’s ability to defy categorising choreography and to broaden what dance signifies.

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