la nuit intime
Choreography by Liv Lorent in collaboration with the company
Dance City, Newcastle, and touring
This year it is heading up to Scotland in a four venue tour and this time it is playing in theatres rather than the nightclubs which were the predominant venues of the previous tours, although these theatres are transformed into nightclubs for the duration of the show - at Edinburgh's Traverse it is actually performed in the bar, rather than in one of the auditoria - and the audience is encouraged to come and go as they please. Seating, mainly cabaret style, is unreserved and there is standing room.
If the Dance City audience (and, to be honest,the audiences in the nightclubs in which I saw the previous versions) is anything to go by, this may well be something of a forlorn hope as the vast majority found themselves a seat and stayed up - or, like me, ended up sitting on the floor for two of the two and a half hours when my companion gave up her seat for me. That it did not, at the very least, require a forklift truck to get me up is nothing short of amazing. But that's age for you: a girl sat close to me (at least forty years my junior) seemed to be perfectly at ease.
There are five performance areas in addition to the main central area and in this performance all can be seen (with, perhaps, a little craning of the neck) from almost anywhere although, when all are in use, a lot of head-swivelling is required.
Ten dancers, in varying combinations, switch effortlessly through a vast range of styles, from ballet to hip hop, ballroom to flamenco, roller-skating to pole dancing, aerial to cossack, and they do it all with unflagging energy and amazing control. They are frequently within inches of the audience: indeed, on a few occasions fast-moving feet came down so close to me that I was sure I was going to be stood on, but it never happened. Truly intime - and hugely impressive.
It's as much about social dance as about dance the art form, as much about intimacy as about dance.
But it doesn't take itself too seriously: there are, of course, moments of passion and intensity, but often the dancers have a twinkle in the eye or a half smile, an invitation to share their enjoyment.
My previous reservations still stand, however. Audiences do tend to treat the show as a performance and, at two and a half hours without an interval, as a performance it is far too long. But clearly the intention is that that is not the approach we should take: we should treat it as an installation and move around, sampling what is happening in each area. But we don't want to miss anything, so we find the best spot we can and stay there. Having a central area where most of the "action" takes place does contribute to this, as does the fact that the seats surround that area.
That said, I do wonder how it would be possible to break the audience's "sit and watch as in a theatre" habit!
"la nuit intime" tours to The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen (4th Nov), Carnegie Hall, Fife (11th Nov), The Arches, Glasgow (14th Nov) and the Traverse, Edinburgh (18th-19th Nov).
Reviewer: Peter Lathan