Choreographer: Christopher Tendai
Filmed at the Theatre Peckham, CTC Dance’s Identity looks at issues of mental health in young people through dance, live music and spoken word. Sometimes the narrative of the dance is a little unclear but the five dancers make up for it in energy and commitment.
Identity starts well with performer Caitlin Taylor struggling with her phone, looking at the selfie she takes and feeling a disconnect with the image she sees and which is projected on a screen on the stage for most of the show. As the other four dancers come on to stage, Taylor replaces the phone with a guitar to sing a quirky and catchy song about having fun and being strange. The dancing here is endearing, almost clownish in places, as the performers balance on one foot, enjoying being strange.
After this optimistic start, the dance turns darker as Taylor confesses that her body does not correspond with her soul. The dancers lose their earlier humour and now run across the stage with balletic leaps, touching the floor briefly as they go. In this middle section, often the routine is staggered with three dancers beginning their steps, while the other two play catch-up after a few beats or so.
Identity is excellently filmed and edited by Uzeyir Setin, but after around 30 minutes the dance becomes a little repetitive, and the steps a little too busy. The music begins to blur into one track, and there is no change in the lights with most of the show danced within a blue shadow. With such little variation, this show about identity fails to find its own. It’s a relief, when after an hour, Taylor picks up the guitar to sing her song again.
The dancers (along with Taylor, there is Mariana Climent Casas, Luke Cartwright, Tinovimbanashe Sibanda and Corey Mitchell) work hard and are rarely off the stage; and it’s incredible that the routine does not appear to exhaust them and that they have breath enough to talk or sing. Of course, choreographer Christopher Tendai is limited in that the whole performance is danced under Covid measures meaning that the dancers remain two metres apart. We yearn to see them touch and engage more physically with each other, especially at the end when Taylor – or to be precise the character she is playing – begins to accept herself.
CTC Dance have also been working with schools during the pandemic and the stream begins with footage of young people, dancers of the future, showing off their skills while the stream ends with a Q&A about the dance and mental health in general. The whole evening makes for an alternative night in.
Runs here until 20 February 2021