And the beat goes on
Bringing the worlds of clubbing and theatre together is easier than you might think, as RAW sets out to prove.
Darkness split by atmospheric lighting, large groups of people enjoying a shared experience and an annoyingly long queue for the ladies toilet – a trip to the theatre and a night out clubbing have more in common than you think. Donegal-based company, Fidget Feet has brought the two worlds even closer with its new work, RAW.
Set in a nightclub and utilising Fidget Feet’s exciting brand of aerial dance theatre, the show was originally created to tempt younger audiences into the theatre. “I wanted to make a piece that would pull a club crowd or young people who think theatre isn’t cool,” explains RAW’s choreographer, Chantal McCormick. “Because theatre can be cool – you can go and see a piece of work that makes you feel happy to be alive and gives you the same buzz you would get from going to a club.”
That said, McCormick was also keen to ensure the issues tackled in the show had a wide appeal. Enter director David Bolger of CoisCéim Dance Theatre, the man responsible for Fringe hits Chamber Made and Knots, both of which had huge emotional resonance. “We spent a lot of time creating the aerial movement and then David helped us build characters,” says McCormick. “We wanted to deal with deeper relationship and world issues, about who we are as people. Why do we go clubbing – are we trying to escape from reality and find a sense of freedom? Or is the club really a prison because there are rules there, too? Part of the show is quite dark, where each character almost falls to pieces, but it’s done in such a way that you can easily put yourself into that situation.”
Trained in contemporary dance, circus skills and aerial work, McCormick added another string to her bow during the RAW rehearsals – pole dancing. Intrigued by how the artform is viewed, she learnt to pole dance, then incorporated it into her choreography – but with a view to provoking thought, rather than titillation. “I like to learn just enough of each skill and then take it as a tool and use it theatrically,” says McCormick. “It’s never just a spectacle, we always try to say something with it or make people feel something.”
McCormick has fused the aerial work and pole dancing together, making it even more daring and gravity-defying. And whereas many aerial shows keep the all important rigger tucked behind a curtain, RAW is living up to its title. As McCormick says, “everything is visible, nothing is hidden” – including the fascinating mechanics of how the production works. What prompted that decision?
“Because it’s so interesting to watch what the riggers do,” says McCormick. “They have to learn all the choreography so they’re completely in tune with the dancers. And it’s great to see them run up and down the ladder – sometimes they have to throw themselves off it just to get us high enough. It’s really like a dance itself.”
RAW, Dance Base @ Out of the Blue Drill Hall, 14-27 August (not 17, 24) 9pm From £10 0131 225 5525
If you like this, try A Lot of Nerve at Pleasance Courtyard, 6-31 August (not 11, 17, 24)