Last night's dance performance at the Pegasus was tantalising from top to toe with tongues included. From the gentle opening music accompanying a lone dancer, through the group dynamics of the playground, to the machismo and strut of youth and a painful metamorphosis into independent maturity, the six male dancer/performers from Company Chameleon, insinuated, sidled and contorted themselves to express the gamut of male experience.
From the opening solo, through an elaborate duet, the cast and energy of the dancers' performance gave expression to the squabbles of the playground through to the roughty tufty bravura of gang membership. Who would have thought that the strut and bravado of a Manchester lad like Liam Gallagher could be so eloquently expressed in dance? The seemingly effortless, yet none the less perfectly controlled, shapes and step sequences also provoked a wide range of emotions from tears to laughter, and there was a great deal of uncomfortable juvenile tittering when the cast stared glared at the audience whilst having a provocative rummage in their trousers.
All of this was underpinned by a driving musical score which opened with a mellifluous traditional tune but moved through a wide variety of genres - Bach to Sizzla – all cleverly intertwined with the original score and underpinned at times with a thrumming, sub-sonic base and this impressive score gave great impetus and further meaning to the performance. The additional sound punctuations from the dancers, who at times simply expressed themselves with sighing breath, shouting lungs, simple speech and song, were an interesting extra dimension to the piece giving greater cohesiveness between the score and the dance and adding emotional depth to the performance.
The Beauty of the Beast is unashamedly male-centric and it is full of dances and moves which explore the nature and growth of the individual male. At one point the cast move individually, in line and light across the stage, beginning with worm-like moves, progressing to the classic hominid stance, and at last modern man swaggers across the stage gangsta style. The piece and the dances within also explore the dynamics of testosterone driven street politics with their aggression and violence. And at the end when one dancer stands alone in the spotlight transformed through the performance into be-suited man, he stares alone and bewildered at the audience who, regardless of gender, reflect his confusion and sorrow.
This was an enthralling, energetic, expressive and emotive performance. The dancers swirled, snarled and sighed their way through a range of male experience and emotions using all of their muscles to precisely express themselves and to provoke in their audience a wide range of feelings and ideas. Although this is undoubtedly a well- conceived piece from Anthony Missen, in truth the whole company should be congratulated for an eloquent and expressive performance. From start to finish, this was a hugely enthralling and enjoyable experience.