So we started with a Prairie Girl lying on the stage dressed in blue and white gingham, with the look of Dorothy (but alas, no Toto). Then, to a Sonic Youth track, she erupted into yoga asana meets electroconvulsive therapy - physical jerks no less. Before we settled down into the relevant mind-set we then had an altogether more beautiful duet, to Debussy’s Claire de Lune. We witnessed terrific choreography in both very contrasting performances - and we were only five minutes in.
Soon the story arrived. It appeared to be about a sun-glassed cop, with clichéd shotgun on the hip and Rod Steiger look, guarding a chain gang on an island (so, not Kansas then). Cue some blues work songs and rattling good chains. The prisoners escape through a parachute-silken sea, allowing for a de-tailed mermaid, a speedboat that doesn’t, a KKK member without the dunce’s cone who loses his head to a great white puppet Great White, a hockey match with the head and the return of Dorothy who by now has become worldly and raunchy. There was lots of iconography of the Made in Hollywood rather than Made in Heaven variety. It was Wizard of Oz meets Jaws meets A Nightmare on Elm Street meets Rosemary’s Baby and a few others thrown in - and the whole thing was mostly like Blue Velvet. Even David Lynch would have been impressed. So that was the story. Daft or brilliant? I’ll vote for brilliant.
This is not to imply that the story was the main attraction - since that was the dancers. The superb dancing was an equally fine collage of styles, from can-can through ballet to disco and all points in between. Never less than fascinating, the six dancers wove the complex action into an absorbing, effective and eye-popping show. They were energetic and controlled, responding to a magical choreography and the incessant music with style, skill and composure. The performance (written, directed and choreographed by Mark Bruce) was wonderful.