la nuit intime

balletLORENT
Choreography by Liv Lorent in collaboration with the company
Mr Lynch, Jesmond, Newcastle, and touring
(2007)

Production photo

Developed in 2005 and touring in 2006, la nuit intime returns to Newcastle for two nights before touring to Malvern Theatres, The Tap 'n' Tin, Chatham, and The Spitz, Old Spitalfields Market. Essentially the same piece that I reviewed last year, there have been some changes, but the central idea remains unaltered: to bring dance into intimate contact with the audience, so that we are often mere inches away from the dancers. Although there are still a number of performance "areas", there seems to be more focus on what was, even then, the central area. This was mainly achieved by setting the audience's seats so that they faced that central area - and I assume, because much of the seating is not fixed, that this was the company's choice. Some of the "events" which were peripheral to the view of the audience around the central area last year have now moved in closer, although, of course, the varying configurations of the different rooms in which it is performed will have a fairly significant effect.

There is a more playful air about the piece than I remember from last year, with the dancers clearly enjoying what they are doing and sharing that enjoyment with each other and with the audience, and there is a feeling of mutual support and pleasure in working together which comes over very strongly, which enables us to experience what Liv Lorent calls "an exchange of empathy and humanity between the audience and the dancers."

And was one of the sections imported from their La Vie des Fantasmes Érotiques et Esthétiques of two years ago?

The huge range of styles, too, is impressive, some played straight and some with tongue in cheek, and the skill and commitment of the dancers are never in doubt.

On the other hand, there is quite a bit of repetition and some of the sections do gone on for too long. At least, they go on too long if the audience is sitting watching a dance performance, as they might in a theatre, but if the audience is on the move and treating the dance just as part of the night out, with conversation, moving between groups of friends, getting a drink from the bar, having a meal and so on, then perhaps the balance is right. But this audience - and I suspect most audiences who, after all, have chosen to come to what is advertised as a dance performance - generally treated it as just that. And the positioning of the seating did tend to encourage it.

la nuit intime is a brave, enjoyable and, on the whole, successful experiment in a different approach to dance but it does tend to fall between the two stools of performance and installation.

Reviewer: Peter Lathan