Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Gravity/ Levity SHIFT at the Brighton Festival 12.5.08

One of the things I like about the Brighton Festival is you often never know what you’re actually going to get.

Some you win, some you lose… and some are just curate’s eggs.

Often the programme description leaves you none the wiser, so at least I had a sneak preview in rehearsal on Monday of Gravity/ Levity’s SHIFT at the Corn Exchange which gave me a clue.

Described by choreographer and performer Lindsay Butcher as an attempt to break the barriers between dance and circus, taking the action from the floor to the air, Shift featured dancers hoisted up on ropes with a complex system of pulleys and weights.

The show started promisingly with a sequence where a “bad boy” dancer character mischievously attempts to jeopardise two female dancers by kicking poles they’re climbing, and swinging them around dangerously, with much shouting and gesticulating.

However, this initial characterisation is bizarrely never followed up in the rest of the show, with an interminable sequence of a dancer swinging in a circle twirling with a board and another part with two roped dancers counterbalancing each other which was initially intriguing but just went on far too long.

Full marks for having the audience seated in a u-shape on the floor of the Corn Exchange at stage level rather than in a traditional auditorium, which was most effective in the final part where the suspended dancers created a percussion piece with wooden boards and weights thumping to the floor.

The backing music, composed by Luke Creswell of Stomp, was inventive and haunting, the stark lighting - specially in the final sequence – highlighted effectively the complex web of pulleys and ropes but ultimately this was an unsatisfying show as it failed to have any “wow, how did they do that?” moments which you expect both from modern dance and aerial acrobatics.


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