Tangible Energy: Elusive and Aloof

Programme image for Tangible Energy.

Energy. That which creates us. Makes us. Connects us. Energy is chemistry. Energy is power. So much potential…

But perhaps the switch didn’t entirely flick on for me, in Tangible Energy?

I’m always open to the possibility that the point flashed past me, and I’ll happily receive another audience member’s enlightened insight. But if the programme blurb and picture (right) are indications of what to expect, then I’ve definitely gone wrong somewhere.

Tangible Energy.

Expectation: an energy so large and, well, tangible, I’m bouncing in my plastic blue bucket seat. Reality: a youngster chewing gum and acting too cool for the school of dance for which he’s on stage.

I’ve never witnessed a more blasé dancer. Chewing gum. On stage. Every once in a while, a vague glance at the audience. Shyness? Seemed more a reluctance to be there.

He was checked out of the moment, but his dance floor buddies did appear more invested. At varying levels. Wearing blue or black cycling shorts, they create an opening scene that is somewhat promising. A cool beat plays. They transfigure to create the iconic ‘evolution’ line.

But from there, the work devolves into something like a variety show. Without the greatest variety.

These dancers are not bad movers though. They’re clearly trained or experienced in body popping and locking. But they are perhaps not experienced enough in contemporary style… besides one dancer (with a shaved head), who stood out in merging his hiphop and contemporary technique, and expressing a true investment in performing the work.

A scene begins as a song starts. Both end and we have a prolonged blackout until the next song starts. Repeat. Hence the feel of a ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ format. The overall rhythm is constantly ‘broken’ as we await the next scene; this, mostly unrelated to what’s come before.

I don’t know why the performers started to shout “tangible”, “energy” whilst running around the scaffolding, and up into the seating. I suspect they were short on ideas for ending the piece and attempted an unconventional ending to add some edge.

This strange ending delivered in a dark theatre dimly lit by the dancers’ cellphone screens, included a few jokes thrown in, which seemed to do the trick in leaving the crowd with a laugh and lifted energy.

Tangible Energy is on tomorrow (05.07) at 14.00 and 20.00. Click here for bookings.


Programme note here; the NAF website is short of it:
Tangible Energy is a physical theatre piece that aims to challenge the audiences’ experience with the theatre and performance. The piece transforms the space to create bold atmospheres and raises questions about our current condition as emotional, sentient beings and how we encounter, communicate and articulate these attributes.
Choreographer: Antonio Van Lendt
Featured Artists: Antonio Van Lendt, Mthunzi Dhlamini, Quinton Manning, Bongani Ngobese

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