Choreography & lighting Emanuel Gat, music Tears For Fears
Emanuel Gat Dance
Seventy uninterrupted minutes of joy: exotic figures in a playground, a catwalk, a stream of consciousness to the music of Tears For Fears, a duo big in the eighties—reunited now. Punk, which became pop. Jazzy, too.
Someone in the music business describes their music to me as honest, and I go along with that. The dance is honest, the production is honest, the vibe is honest, generous and giving.
“Mad World”, “Shout”, “Everybody Wants to Rule The World”, “Change”, “Sowing The Seeds Of Love”… “Ideas as Opiates”, “The Prisoner”, “Pale Shelter”, “Memories Fade”, “The Way You Are”, “Listen”, “Famous Last Words”… the narrative is right there. It is seized with relish.
A dozen dancers in outlandish motley costumes, which they adapt as LOVETRAIN2020 progresses, give what looks like individualistic and improvised moves, personal convincing narratives, but the director Emanuel Gat has a firm hold—he does the atmospheric lighting, all smoke and darkness. He tells us where to look.
I read that he doesn't like to impose his signature on his dancers’ bodies, as some choreographers do. So, LOVETRAIN2020 is credited as created with and performed by Eglantine Bart, Tara Dalli, Noé Girard, Nikoline Due Iversen, Gilad Jerusalmy, Péter Juhasz, Michael Loehr, Emma Mouton, Rindra Rasoaveloson, Abel Rojo Pupo, Karolina Szymura, Sara Wilhelmsson.
The set is basic: black panels at the back make it look like a Biblical or ancient Greek temple, the people behind them preparing to come and take us on some spiritual journey. Silent solos (palate cleaners?—I love the “Mad World” solo) intersperse each musical number, which focuses our concentration.
And Thomas Bradley’s eccentric costumes are so Vivienne Westwood. All that camp strutting and preening... Different strokes for different folks: it’s a gig pure and simple. I am captivated.
Dancers are as unique as their variegated garb: my eyes keep lighting on one in particular but I can’t name him. Covered in tattoos, he has the supplest arms. And a direct gaze. Many come forward to front stage and look at us openly, trying to make eye contact, inviting a communion with them, perhaps.
Kinetic frieze tableaux stretch in diagonal across the stage. Watchful friezes form at the back as individuals peel away and dance alone before them. Soliloquys. Solos are intense, though one looks to be marking his contribution as if in rehearsal, which takes me back and makes me smile. Nuts and bolts, so to speak. It may be a group, a community, but, they seem to be saying, we are not a homogenous mass.
Repetitive moves, loose casual style, supple, random, leaping in abandon, and I think Hofesh Shechter and Sharon Eyal, but Emanuel Gat is not out of their Batsheva Dance Company stable as I imagine at first: he didn't come to dance till he was 23 in the early nineties at a class for amateurs, studying with Nir Ben Gal and wife Liat Dror in Israel. He founded his company Emanuel Gat Dance in France in 2004.
His Marseille company premièred LOVETRAIN2020 at Montpellier Danse festival in 2020 where it received the prize of best dance performance of the year in France. I can imagine them in Avignon at the festival, and of course they have performed there.
The itinerant players have landed in Islington and I am delighted. Heart-warming, except for the, seemingly necessary in these disturbing times, security guards, either side of the stage … “We have nothing to lose”… “we will carry war no more” (“Famous Last Words”).
Reviewer: Vera Liber