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Piccole Donne – TiDA

BE Festival 2016 – Tuesday

*****

THE BE Festival is an annual celebration of European theatre and dance, where companies and audiences come together in a creative hub at the Birmingham REP.

In a weeklong festival, performances from highly acclaimed companies from the continent are only the highlight of the programme.

The week includes workshops led by directors and companies for audiences to get involved and learn about their process, daily feedback sessions from the work that was seen the day before and even an interval dinner on the REP’s main stage.

This year, it is clear that there is a slightly different atmosphere at the BE Festival. It is a treat that given the political excitement that Britain is facing currently with its EU Referendum, the BE Festival are right in the middle of the action.

Walking around the BE Festival hub, there is an exciting buzz from everyone and with strong conversations about hopes for the future and the importance of art within Europe itself.

Piccole Donne – TiDA

The first performance of the evening started with the company who won last year’s festival. TiDA are an Italian dance theatre company, merging character and movement to create unique stories.

The title of their performance has two translations, ‘Little Women’ and ‘Good Wives’. This is exactly the concept that the piece alluded to. In the sixty-minute performance, we see three women characters and it later emerges that they are brides waiting for their wedding day that never happens.

The story is of womanhood told through dance, looking at the traditions and expectations that women face as a whole. TiDA looks at what happens when women break away from the pressures that are sometimes forced unto them.

The performance seems as if it is in two halves, the first focuses on the concept of ‘chaos’. There is a humorous commentary displayed upon a gauze that explains to us that it is ok if we do not understand the meaning behind their piece in the first thirty minutes or so, explaining that they ‘are talking about chaos’, after all.

The first half of the piece is set against a dark backdrop and we can only make out the silhouettes of the three dancers as they create interesting shapes and images that tells a story about the chaos of their world as brides.

The second part of the story is easier to follow. The piece could well be described as ‘black comedy’. Each dancer takes on the persona of a new bride whose groom does not show up. Their wedding day is shared between them but only the brides themselves are in attendance.

The lights are brighter and we see a story emerge of the brides without their husbands. Each bride has a different reaction to their shared wedding. One being in a flustered panic because none of the traditional items are present, such as the cake or sugared almonds. This excitement is completely funny and only brings out the chaos of the piece even more.

Another is in complete desperation for her husband to be there and breaks down in tears of utter desolation, but we are distracted by the humorous flailing of the other bride to notice. The last has no idea what to do and is merely an observer of the other bride’s disbelief of nobody coming to their wedding.

As well as the wonderful characterisation and funny story telling, thcollectivee three performers are excellent dancers. Through their movement, they drive the story and allow the main concepts to be seen and felt with their bodies and of course, it is helped by big costumes of bridal dresses.

Piccole Donne was an excellent start to the festival and introduced everyone to the high quality art that BE has to offer.

Collective Loss of Memory – D0T504

The evening was contrasted by D0T504, from the Czech Republic. Whilst TiDA looked at the views on women within society, Collective Loss of Memory aimed to explore what it meant to be masculine and the concepts around ‘manliness’.

It was a hard hitting piece, especially at the end of their performance. The audience were in fact warned about the use of violence within the piece before it started and there was very good reason for it. As the company presented their findings and exploration into manhood and identity, D0T504 asked the question do we need to be part of a group to feel superior and what happens to those who are already part of a minority group.

The piece is fast paced and physically inspiring. The company is made up of five men who have created their own characters within the piece. We start by seeing two men fighting and grappling each other in high physical embraces. After this happens, they explain who they are and their role within the group. There is a distinct hierarchy and each man is fighting to be on top. They work together as they know that they are stronger as a group, however they still try to maintain their own individual identity.

D0T504 are excellent all round performers. The on stage performance is a mix between Capoeira and Parkour, giving the audience a treat for the eyes with acrobatic sequences and highly physical dances. They are also beautiful story tellers. In some moments of the piece we see choral speeches taking place in which we understand their motif behind their hard hitting story.

At first they try to become the audience’s friend, with charming persona’s and funny lines. Their excellent display of dance is something to admire, however, their story is indeed very serious. D0T504 have an excellent way of telling us that no matter how friendly or open they seem, there is still a danger to fighting for manhood and the pressures to be a typical man.

The poignant ending was a reflection of this in when, as the piece ended, the audience were so shocked at what was just witnessed that there was a moment of silence for at least a minute before applause. The respect for the company’s handling of the sensitive content was extremely raw, and the mood was felt even when the audience was leaving the auditorium. The BE festival runs to 25-06-16.

Elizabeth Halpin

21-06-16

BE festival 

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