Words by Robert Kornreich
Wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. The dance. The digital music. The lighting, video, graphics, all just… I’m sorry to sound gushy but while I watched ACE’s new production I thought: this is not happening; bodies can’t do this. But they did.
OK, so what’s it all about? I’ve seen Gail Parmel’s amalgamation of African/Japanese choreography before, in and outside of Birmingham, but I’m still influenced by production spiel.
ICE promised to explore the gradual freezing of people, into physically and emotionally static transhumans who can resist change, aging and pain. All too intriguing not to unravel.
Then, once the protagonists are ‘frozen’ in time and emotion, to carefully pick away at the flipside; the ambivalence of the thawed, the breathing, life, re-attachment, loss and death.
Throughout the production a staccato-like martial art-like dance swept across the stage, whilst urgent, melodious electronic, drumming and sporadic strobe lights perpetuated the scene. And although the MAC presented this in a rather thin, wet and New Age way, it did make the point that the work builds and radiates tension. Gloriously.
But the most engaging point was that ICE is not just a story, or narrative, but an experience of raw visceral, visual and audible energy and power (see, two can play about with New Age copy) and, insofar as ICE was a story, it always enabled the audience to construct it.
So, swapping the descriptive for references, think Pina Bausch meets 1930s German Expressionist film (like Metropolis and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari), crossed with George Bernard Shaw’s Back to Methuselah; think Birmingham’s Stan’s Café, think London Contemporary Dance Theatre (some 15 years back). That’s ICE’s style, that’s its quality. One I’d love to return.
For more info on ACE visit www.acedanceandmusic.com
For info on other MAC productions visit www.macarts.co.uk