Reviewer: Rachel Vogel
Part narrative, part history lesson, Eddie Ladd and Judith Roberts in their work Gaza/Blaenannerch examine the Palestine and Israeli conflict with surprising artistic sensitivity. By paralleling Wales and Palestine by way of the struggle for an independent identity, these Welsh creators connect these countries and histories, allowing them both an objective and subjective standpoint on the situation. Seamlessly both choreographer and director navigate between movement and dialogue, developing a visual narrative with words, embellished and built upon using sections of anguished and physically penetrable movement.
Eddie Ladd has a gift of presenting honest movement. Establishing such a transparency renders her body a mirror for feeling. By manipulating a configuration of rocks, Ladd used these props as anchoring points for the development of the piece, progressive milestones that gradually reveal more of the work. This skillful unfolding of a non-linear narrative is what keeps this work interesting. Though it’s easy to become bogged down with the gravity and enormity of information in the piece, there are moments, breaks, where “lessons” occur, the information within the piece is examined from a different viewpoint, dissecting the pace of the work. In one example, Ladd lists “Acetone” at the top of a blackboard, and “Zionism” on the bottom. Explaining how these concepts relate to the overall structure feeds audience curiosity, and placates the intellectual and historical buffs through artistic ingenuity.
If this piece sounds technical, you’re getting the right sort of image. The history of the Palestine struggle, and the subsequent tone of the current situation is the backbone of everything that is delivered in this work. The encouraging thing is that it is unnecessary for a strong grounding in history or politics to interpret and appreciate what Ladd and Roberts state. Flecks of humour, of ignorance, or speculation pepper the work and filter this genre from educational lecture to physical theatre. Roberts, playing the rôle of the director displays a sounding point for Ladd to vocally move toward and physically respond to, balancing on piles of rocks, crawling up chalk-boards and giving her body in to simple yet weighted movement.
What the piece lacks in virtuosity, it gains in uniqueness. For someone looking for dance, this work may seem somewhat lacking in movement, but for choreographic and narrative development, physical strength and complexity this work possessed a compelling depth that cannot be overlooked. Do not be put off, but encouraged by the subject matter. History isn’t only for the classroom.