Review: Knot at Assembly Roxy
4★★★★

I used to think “dance partner” was the solution to the problem of gender-neutral relationship terminology. After all, a relationship should be more like a dance than a business venture… OK, it was a stupid idea. For one thing, people take you literally and think you took up salsa. But it’s part of why a blend of circus, dance and theatre from partners Nikki Rummer and JD Brussé wowed me with its acute, expressive exploration of the different knots of partnership.

Rummer and Brussé’s trained as acrobats and Knot’s most breathtaking moments come from stunning circus feats, executed with an intimate simplicity that leaves the audience feeling like flies on the fourth wall. This is all the more impressive when balanced against artfully honest monologue sequences delivered directly to the audience.

The breaks between movement and monologue can be abrupt and fragmentary. But the choreography, devised in collaboration with Ben Duke of Lost Dog Dance Company, integrates these elements with some of the inventive flair of contemporary dance, and little of its pretentiousness. It’s refreshing for the same reasons I find classical ballet frustrating. The range of emotions that fit within the courtly formulas of ballet – longing, coyness, bravado, submission – excludes so much. What about irritation, ennui, or simply wanting to get drunk with your mates? Why is it always a man and a woman, playing out what feels like the same romance? He’s always strong, she’s always delicate; there are none of the everyday niggles of a contemporary relationship. 

Instead, Knot probes these familiar, tricky feelings as a simple, wryly funny story of romance becomes a complex and deconstructive study of character, and of the different ways in which we lift one another. It’s raw, sexy and intelligent. I strongly recommend it.

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