The Candoco Dance Company is an inspiring group of people with the ability to conquer the audience. Their Triple Bill, comprised of works by Thomas Hauert, Javier de Frutos and the Trisha Brown Dance Company, was performed to a small audience at the Warwick Arts Center. As the programme stated, Candoco Dance Company, comprised of both disabled and non-disabled dancers, is twisting perceptions of what dance is and who can dance. In the process of creating a diverse dance community using an inclusive practice, they are pushing boundaries and forcing us to question what we see on stage. They represent a new way of working, dancing and perhaps even existing in the world. Their Triple Bill was an original way of triggering memories, graphing the movement of bodies, capturing the sounds of voices, and exposing the honesty of touch and the seeing of different bodies on a stage. Sensing and relationships was the thread tying the three pieces together.

© Candoco Dance Company
© Candoco Dance Company

Notturnino, choreographed by Thomas Hauert, was a tightly structured improvisational piece that was set to the documentary Tosca's Kiss; a film that accompanies retired opera singers and documents the conversations that take place in their nursing home in Milan. Notturnino was a sensory overload in which the costuming, multiple movers and the mixing of elements was a bit fragmented. Perhaps reading the projected subtitles to the Italian conversations and following the improvisational dancing simultaneously was not very easy. Again, Candoco Dance Company was challenging the audience and making us work; not a bad thing, but it made the piece a bit too disjointed and thus gave me the feeling that I did not get the most out of the piece. However, after a few hours of meditating on Notturnino, I realized there was something very human occurring that allowed me to appreciate it more and make sense of its obscurity. One of the most powerful moments was when Australian born dancer, Tanja Erhart, stood up and balanced on her one leg. The other dancers, in a clump on the floor, raising limbs in a floating fashion, circled Erhart who powerfully gazed directly at us – talk about standing your ground. Her power and commitment to sustain that position was, as the soundtrack said, “Bello”. Indeed it was. The voice on the screen went on to say “How silly of me I almost felt like crying.” This sentence echoed my feelings and with the “piano, piano” the lights faded.

© Candoco Dance Company
© Candoco Dance Company

Javier de Frutos' Two for C was restricted to what looked like a square carpet, resembling a pattern found in a hotel lobby. The piece was primarily confined to that square space but its spirit was so much bigger than the carpet outlined on stage. The two male dancers wore strange Mexican wrestler masks, which were far from creepy or bizarre and actually comical, as they danced together on two chairs. Whether a father-son relationship or a brotherly love fight, Two for C was a fun piece with stunning dancing. Repetitive shoulder flicks and imaginative ways of climbing in and out of the chairs reflected “the wrestler” theme. The grappling, weight-sharing, shoulder stands and cart-wheels balanced out the take-downs and the joint-locks between the two men. Although one might expect a lot of testosterone from two male dancers, there were plenty of moments with tender submissive movements. In addition to the dancing, the costuming spoke volumes. One of the dancer's white suit jackets had “Rather die on your feet that live on your knees”, written upon it in black marker.

© Candoco Dance Company
© Candoco Dance Company

The Trisha Brown Dance Company worked in collaboration with the Candoco Dance Company to create a new piece that is based on Trisha Brown's 1983 Set and Reset. The new Set and Reset/Reset transformed the stage into a math class of geometrical shapes and symmetry. The questions of shapes and sizes were all relative when placed on the bodies. The exploration of space, time and energy where the senses were encouraged to dictate the movement made the visible invisible. The commitment of the dancers made their limbs extend past the parameters of the stage. The fun peaks over the shoulders, the twisting of torsos, the long legs and warm smiles made the dancing math class enjoyable.

These artists were definitely victorious in their quest to alter perceptions. Seven dancers and three pieces together make one inspirational evening of admirable dancing. The Candoco Dance Company deconstructed life and reassembled the pieces in a new way.