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Dance Review: la nuit intime

Jo Turbitt believes this piece of interactive dance theatre is 'an exhilarating joy' and shouldn't be missed.

La nuit intime is a delicious piece of interactive dance theatre. Naturalistic in its quality, dancers meander and mingle amongst the audience through the atmospheric setting of the Traverse Bar, entirely comfortable in their own skin, movement and voice. This is dance theatre for the Mumford and Sons generation: gutsy, sensitive, challenging and full of energy.

Ballet Lorent have taken a public space and played with the idea of "what would happen if I just got up and danced around?" They're smashing the 4th wall concept into smithereens, leaving it nonexistent in their work, but partially hinted towards in the dancers’ personas. If this were in a theatre it would be ruined. No moment lingered to the point of being "heavy"; nothing sat in the air too long. Each idea left a memorable imprint in the space.

The crowd are as much part of this piece, as important as the dancers in that we inhabit the same space as they do and our reaction to what is happening is viewed by others. While conventional theatre asks for an audience by being performed in a space where all the seats face the same way, the lights go out, we go silent and the focus is on the stage, the action here happens amongst us. Our seats face other audience members and people are encouraged to walk about, chat and the lights don't go out. Your approach to this piece, no matter which perspective you look at it from, is right. Your choice is your guide as to where you look, what you see and experience. Beautiful concepts: hooks of ideas, woven together by the atmosphere and the surroundings, teasingly redirecting your attention to another area of the room, but then look behind you and you'll see a new movement idea developing in another space. Choose to look. Choose to move. Choose to absorb. I loved that there were things going on that I couldn't see and that there were other images that only myself and those sitting in my area experienced.

Shifting focus simply by moving around the space and with sculptural lighting, at times I was reminded of a site-specific Cirque du Soleil. It also drew parallels for me with the astounding De La Guarda, who take a normal space and convert it into a house of stunning physical theatre. La nuit intime is composed of beautiful moments which, when sewn together, make the show. Liv Lorent is an intuitive choreographer of moments. The movement content is juicy, simple, yet executed to perfection. You don't notice how simple the sequences are as they lace the evenings work, popping up like refreshing anecdotes amongst a sea of woven choreographic images, which occur in atmospheric waves. Lorent plays with these images with the creative intuition of Jim Henson and Terry Gulliam, toying with the surreal and challenging; however this didn't feel like the overall intention of the piece, which meant that when it happened I didn't dread it or felt bored by it.

Liv Lorent is dabbling and playing with the beautiful simplicity of movements. At times it was a little too pedestrian, too much of one idea to sustain it through its duration, making me want more growth and exploration of these parts. Saying this, however, threw up a lot of questions as I was watching. Does dance need to be steps? Does choreography need to evolve in and with steps? Is the combination of movement and expression choreography in itself? Is what Lorent doing, in fact, liberating the dance/choreography community of the need for using sequences, almost taking it a step further from improvisation?

The dancers are individuals in their appearance and their movement vocabulary. They form an ensemble of sinewed females and athletic males, both having the strength and stamina of marathon runners. They perform with wonderful natural synchronicity with each other and mesmerisingly on their own and are intrinsically compelling; you want to watch them dance against a backdrop of sculptural lighting, invigorating music and bohemian design.

Ballet Lorent may have just invented the parkour of contemporary dance: dance based on how we react/feel in an environment which we most commonly interact as we, the audience, react to what's happening. There is a feeling of liberation of the dancer; a movement quality of freedom underlies the movement no matter what the style or technique, often exploring what a body can do. They have captured an essence of expression and celebrate this alongside their diversity in dance vocabulary. Whether it is aerial, breaking, pointe, ballet, flamenco, tap, sculptural, even burlesque at times, their movement is their natural voice, expression... An exhilarating joy to be absorbed in.

No description of this show will do it justice; it has to be experienced.

La nuit intimate performs at the Traverse until November 19th.

Tags: dance

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