It’s an exciting time for Company Chameleon. The Manchester-based contemporary dance company officially opened the doors to its first permanent home back in October and just this week announced Darcey Bussell as its first ever patron.
On Friday, the company invited an audience to their new base in Openshaw for a sharing of The Shadow, the latest work in progress from artistic director Anthony Missen. The extracts shared—the result of just two weeks’ worth of devising and improvisation—may not appear in the final work, but overall promise a dark and thought-provoking psychological exploration of mankind’s shadowy side.
Different approaches to the theme are explored in each segment, but across all of them partnership is key—pairs of dancers conflict, struggle, support, mirror and even dance off against each other. Each different duet showcases the jaw-dropping athleticism, strength and technique of the company.
The cast is made up of both professional company dancers and students from the University of Salford, who appear as sinister hooded figures with covered faces. When the piece tours, these shadow roles will be performed by locally recruited dancers—yet another first for the company.
One of the simplest and most striking moments of the sharing was the final tableau: a shadow dancer, sat centre-stage on a chair, facing the audience. This sinister presence acts as a reminder of everyone’s darker self, and particularly resonates with anonymous online ‘trolls’ and abusers—the shadows of our era.
The Shadow will be revealed in its finished form in autumn 2019—tour dates are to be announced—but however it appears, it promises to be powerful.