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Stephanie Schober & Dance Company and Stan Won’t Dance - 'Change' and 'Sinner'

by Cerise

May 7, 2004 -- Royal Festival Hall, Purcell Room, London

Rob won't dance…when I say "won't," I really mean "doesn't." He doesn't allow himself to. He's not been brought up to enjoy himself, to sing, to dance or to love. To socialize, to take drugs, or to like Blacks, Pakis or queers. Until he meets Martin, who messes with his head…

Humorous, dark, complex and emotionally unstable, "Sinner" could be your new best friend or your recurring nightmare. Two men, two identical holdalls, two sides of the same story, too much truth in this fiction to be ignored. Densely packed with cleverly framed thorny topical issues, Stan Won't Dance (Robert Tannion and Liam Steel) throw out provocative dialogue with the same ease as they throw each other and their props across a lily-strewn set.

But this stuff is definitely not throw-away. The social paranoia, moral dilemmas, identity crises, threat of terrorism, conflict, contradictions and prejudices created on stage are for keeps. After the final blackout, onto the street and inside the train carriage, these things are still with us. Every bag, attended or unattended, a target of suspicion. "Because you can never be too careful these days."

Co-choreographer and performer Robert Tannion wears his DV8 heart on his sleeve with this warmly received new work of sheer physical theatre. Shown on the small Purcell Room stage, the emotional physicality and emotional intensity of "Sinner" filled the house and was performed with such assurance and detail that this could easily be conceived of as dance film in the flesh -- and certainly looks bound for many more audiences.

Forming the first half of the programme, Stephanie Schober's "Change" aspired to more (questioning our acceptance of normality, for example, as proposed by the flyer), but achieved less. The opening tableau of two dancers (Laura Anderson and Bonita Chan) on a plain, starkly lit stage was interrupted by a tantalizing twitching foot, tapping out a morse message into the air, a promising prelude. This muted aesthetic, however, continued throughout.

The duo's mutating configurations were joined by a second duet (Katsura Isobe and Stephanie Schober): full of promise, swoops and quirks, but never passion. A quiet ambient soundscape of background chatter and classical melodies accompanied the dancers as they gestured and wove around each other in intricate, unpredictable and unresolved patterns. Like a lava lamp, they formed a pleasantly distracting Morpheus peoplescape, their exquisitely release-tuned fluid bodies only just enough to hold the eye for the piece's duration.

Edited by Lori Ibay

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