Childhood is a precious time of freedom and imagination that we feel an innate desire to protect but not all children receive adequate protection. In Dislocation, eleven children navigate abandonment in a story of resilience and teamwork.
The fourth season for a new youth dance company Wild Hearts Youth Dance Company is an evocative and impressive performance directed by Angela Hamilton. Depicting eleven children who awake in an unfamiliar environment, the production follows them as they explore, collaborate, and eventually escape. It begins with the girls as lost and wandering but together they become stronger and find an internal, otherworldly power.
Choreography by Hamilton with assistance from Charlotte Twitchell and guest choreographer Billy Keohavong set the scene with a central performer lit by flashlights and writhing like a cobra charming the audience. As the other performers slithered towards the centre, the tension rose and quickly cracked as the performance got underway. The dancers were dressed simply but their hunched and reserved movements showed their discomfort and fear in the darkened surroundings. The lighting design began as largely hand-held flashlights the performers used to silhouette and flash glimpses of their moving forms. Later, the lighting design became more pronounced with extraterrestrial blue washes and spots for added drama. Combined with the discordant sound design of clicks and whistles, distorted voices, and radio static, the production design was exceptional for creating a mesmerising atmosphere. That being said, none of the production elements detracted from the physical performers and it was commendable how the sound design complemented the live sounds of feet slapping the floor and hands connecting with thighs.
Hamilton’s choreography was relentless with constant movement and visual interest. Thinking of these performers as vulnerable girls, potentially kidnapped, made certain images particularly potent such as the performers jumping up the warehouse walls, looking for an escape route, or the simple act of running which became much more frightening in this context. Other moments were incredibly disconcerting like when the performers put the flashlights in their mouths or the sound of their bodies hitting and rolling along the concrete floor. These small, subtle but charged choices made the performance and its narrative of lost children powerfully emotional.
Wild Hearts Youth Dance Company caters to contemporary dancers aged 8-18 so this production included relatively young performers. However, the commitment in their performance was captivating. From the small groups engaged in repetitious movements to the larger solo moments where performers demonstrated the girls’ growing strength and power were equally interesting and demonstrated the range of skills in the group.
The combination of the unusual, atmospheric production design, the evocative and innovative choreography, and the skill of the performers made Dislocation an exceptional production. This is a company well worth keeping an eye on.
Dislocation was performed at Create or Die on December 10th
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