Choreographer Holly Blakey
Music: Gwilym Gold and Darkstar
Reviewer: Dave Cunningham
To reach The Compass Room where Some Greater Class is staged one must pass through the art gallery at The Lowry which seems appropriate as the show is as much art installation as dance. As the audience is seated on a flat, rather than sloping, floor the sightlines are rotten rendering the dancers invisible when they are lying rather than standing. As Some Greater Class has a sexual theme a far bit of lying down takes place.
The stated objective of Holly Blakey’s dance piece is to explore the hyper-sexualised language of the music video and to address ideas of connectivity, gender and class. It is hard to relate much of the show to these specific themes. Granted, there is a nod to gender fluidity with a shaven-headed androgynous figure and two of the male dancers wearing a dress and a corset but, overall, the subject seems to be the loss of passion due to loveless sex.
The dance opens in an aggressive manner with rapid pulsing mechanical beats from Gwilym Gold and Darkstar blasting out and the dancers making confrontation eye contact with each other and, later, the audience. The opening dance is almost martial in presentation – the troupe adopting fierce thrusting poses as if fencing or performing martial arts. This is very much sex as a weapon.
Some Greater Class may not be as dauntingly sexual as the producers would like to imagine. Fellatio is mimed repeatedly but Bowie did that routine back when he was performing as Ziggy Stardust. Parts of the show are simply puzzling with dancers breaking off for a drink or wandering aimlessly around the audience.
Where Some Greater Class excels is in the exploration of a culture where sex has become mechanical and joyless. There is one brief moment where a dancer breaks the forth wall and charges towards the audience preening and flaunting himself but overall there is a marked lack of eroticism.
The walls of The Compass Room are lined with gigantic fronds and Blakey catches the atmosphere of a Garden of Eden gone to seed with a jaded and dissolute population. One dancer goes through the motions of pointing at the audience and pumping his groin in the ‘Hey, baby’ style but his eyes are closed and he is performing ritual motions by rote. Another dancer repeatedly beats his chest making what look like increasingly desperate efforts to simply feel something –anything will do even if it is pain.
For a sexual dance there is a shocking lack of passion. This is most apparent in the emotion –or rather its absence- in the facial expressions of the dancers. The Company perform as if dead from the neck up. It is very disturbing to watch a woman with her legs spread and hips thrusting but a blank look in her eyes as if she is wondering whether she left the gas on.
It is this awful lack of emotion that is the greatest success of Some Greater Class making if a better title might have been The Misery of Sex.
Runs until 17th October 2017 | Image: Contributed