Dreaming in Code: milk night / Lucid Grounds

Choreography Eddie Kay and Tamsin Fitzgerald
2Faced Dance
The Place London

Chris Knight and Luke Rigg in Lucid Grounds Credit: Luke Evans
Lucid Grounds from Dreaming in Code Credit: Luke Evans
Jason Boyle and Jack Humphrey in Lucid Grounds Credit: Luke Evans
Jason Boyle in Lucid Grounds Credit: Luke Evans
Chris Knight, Jason Boyle, Luke Rigg, Jack Humphrey in milk night Credit: Luke Evans
Luke Rigg, Chris Knight and Jack Humphrey in milk night Credit: Luke Evans
Ed Warner in milk night Credit: Luke Evans

Tamsin Fitzgerald, artistic director of 2Faced Dance began a mission in 1999 to make dance more accessible to young people, to inspire them, to increase dance provision for them through education and performance.

And from where I am sitting, sixteen years down the line, her mission has paid off: the audience of young people around me hollers, shouts, screams as if they’re at a rock concert. Even the performers are stunned by this response.

The company is small, five men under a woman’s thumb. I jest, but there’s truth in that. Where would they be without women? The first piece out of a short double bill investigates just that.

Lower case milk night by Eddie Kay of Frantic Assembly is a thirty-seven-minute dance drama of men behaving like lost boys in the wilderness, babbling about relationship breakups, talking in stereo, over each other, looking for comfort from each other, having chest to chest stand-offs.

On a camping trip—three tents in the background—they run through their lunatic tics as they stare moonstruck at the moon. Torch songs play, hurricane lamps light their imagined demons, a disco ball spins, and they dance their hearts out.

Very DV8, very Frantic Assembly, and frantic: ricochet moves, flying through the air, falls anticipated, contact work built on unconditional trust, but hope is gone. Is there anyone out there? There’s always Skype, but it’s precisely that that brings on a breakdown on this boys alone trip.

Pushing away and reaching out, till it all becomes too much for one: he puts on a nightie, becomes the woman he has lost. Quite a journey from testosterone anorak to a discovery of the feminine inside: ‘You don’t know how I feel’.

Boys have feelings too. They are big softies really. The rest is all front. And Jason Boyle, Jack Humphrey, Chris Knight, Luke Rigg, Ed Warner have plenty of that.

Tamsin Fitzgerald’s shorter piece that follows, Lucid Grounds, only nineteen minutes long, packs a mightier more visceral pure dance punch. As soon as the lights go down and lighting effects come on all I hear is ‘wow’.

A light bulb moment? A Matrix moment. Men in black whirl like dervishes, stand under transforming lights, recharge, and power through the music’s electronic punctuations. Swirl, slide, spin, flip, twitch, pair off, but are mightier as the conquistador five.

‘Javier Frutos’ (Jason Boyle) dances with Billy Elliott’s ‘Jamie Bell’ (Jack Humphrey)—I must be imagining, dreaming, my mind afflicted. Don’t we all have doubles somewhere?

Plastic sheeting reflects and distorts the plasticity of the men, the flow and folds of their long silken capes and coats. Blue light picks out their faces in the dark. Is this Solaris? Or Inception?

Lucid dreaming; shaky ground. Warriors in training? Great momentum. They walk towards us in phalanx, turn and walk away as if to say we are not worth fighting for…

Lights out, and cacophony breaks loose: ‘I want to see this again’, ‘it’s the best thing I’ve ever seen’. Obviously their experience is limited, but any dance performance that gets this reaction must be doing something right.

Man’s dual nature in an intelligent double bill that shows both sides, the real and the imagined, the vulnerable and the invincible.

Production values are commendably high for such a small scale company: Alex Baranowski and Angus MacRae’s original music composition, Garance Marneur and Susan Kulkarni’s costume design, James Mackenzie’s lighting.

Reviewer: Vera Liber