Review: “Matters of Life and Death”

It seems we do possess a vivid imagination after all, and watching a Made by Katie Green performance is enough to convince you of that. Our mind is able to fill in the blanks, jump to conclusions, empathise with the person standing before us. With the barest of lighting, props, even dancers, Green managed to set the whole scene from Graham Swift’s novel, Wasteland and tease out the intricacies of a single moment. It’s immediately discernible, the beauty of dance – it’s ability to manipulate time, question the perspective, and relive one moment over and over again.

One flashlight, held by a dancer, illuminates a body undulating. A clever play of dancers pushing and pulling this suspended form, this seemingly lifeless body has an eerie quality. Small wooden props trap and shape the space, dictating the space between land and water. Interchangeably, progressively, each dancer is brought into the space, a different character reacting to this scene.

For one it’s panic, grabbing the body, looking for life; for another it’s terror, seeing the bodies of those she loves reflected in the one in the sluice; there’s anger at death, alongside sadness; and each dancer reveals a believable tale that can intermingle with one another, tethering each situation.

Driven from an emotional pinpoint, the dancer’s movements evolve from within. There’s the sharpness of anger laced with the disbelief. Dancers throw themselves to the ground and fall over one another in moments of agony and shock each adding to our understanding of the threshold this situation has broken through. Contact pervades the movement vocabulary, the dancers hanging from one another, being lifted, shifted. The dancers act as personalities to bounce from, but also props themselves, heightening the sensations of the work.

By the end of the work, you yourself have worked through the situation, identifying with some, but understanding of others. Roped along with the lifeless body itself, Green may have shed the light on the situation, but by no means robbed it of its gravity. This is a work which transports you to a single moment of great change. You can’t help but let your imagination run wild and wrangle the deep empathy that’s shaken within you.

Image: Nuno Santos

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