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Bytom Contemporary Dance Festival

YERPLE - "Electric Tales" by New Art Club

by Anna Swiderska

July 5, 2005 -- Bytom, Poland

The New Art Club performance, "Electric Tales", made most of us laugh a lot, but at the same time some people left the theatre early – perhaps disappointed not to see a typical contemporary dance performance. It is possible that part of the audience was not open enough to experiment –that they associate contemporary dance mainly with the “dancey” material presented by the City Dance Ensemble from Washington. Perhaps it is a result of the fact that in Poland we have few opportunities to see what is going on in the international contemporary dance field, except during the Bytom Festival.

Tom Roden and Peter Shenton brought us a rich mixture of dance, theatre and comedy. The performance was bursting with an absurd, Monty Python sense of humor. The British performers played with the role of electricity in our lives: starting with the electric discharges that take place in our brains giving us control over our bodies, through the mania of collecting a myriad of electrical gadgets that are supposed to make our lives easier (or maybe harder), and ending with the electric sparks between people which, like the poles of a magnet, can bring them together or push them apart. And everything comes to the question how to find the golden middle/solution/balance, which is according to the New Art Club, something hidden between the face and reverse of a coin, between the on and off for a light switch.

The choreography of "Electric Tales" can be called minimalist: the duo often ironically repeated very simple, even banal sequences of movement, matching the climate of the absurd. We were not prepared for such an extended use of words in the performance; maybe this is why some viewers couldn’t sink into this game, as they just didn’t understand the language. Dance sections were laced with satirical stories such as the one about a “dark, dark, daaaark dream” in which one of them discovers a brand new color – only revealed at the end of the evening to be “yerple” (a mix of yellow and purple), brighter than gold and deeper than black.

Not everybody likes Monty Python’s sense of humor, but we let ourselves flow with the Electric Tales, even though the performance lasted 75 minutes. For those who laughed at least a little, and are eager to get another dose of the absurdist humor I encourage you to visit their website www.newartclub.com .

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