DanceReviewSouth East

Madhead – Jerwood DanceHouse, Ipswich

Director & Choreographer: Botis Seva

Reviewer: Cavelle Leigh

Revered choreographer Botis Seva here directs the National Youth Dance Company of Sadler’s Wells to present Madhead, a combative dance piece with dark, dystopian undertones. The dancers are propelled across the stage as pack animals on a hunt. With prefect precision, they take aim, attack and retreat. Apocalyptic in nature and Kafkaesque in part, it would strike fear in the bravest warrior. On and off stage they scuttle, rapidly increasing in numbers. There is a rising tide of malevolence throughout as their menacing approach is halted here and there for fleeting yet uneasy smiles at the audience.

There is however a wild card among them, one who struggles to be free. Now liberated from the weight and oppression of his army, his movement is loose and fluid, the antithesis of that surrounding him. It cannot last. The anti-hero is soon made an example of. He is certainly repentant and terrified of his fate. Mental illness; anxiety and paranoia are alluded to as the dancers hold their lulling heads in their hands, a nod perhaps to the title of the piece.

The costume and stage wholly reflect the tone of the piece; dark, bleak, foreboding. That is until the dancers revert to their urban dress, and each as one of an intimidating gang, goad each other and the audience. Drawing parallels with what has occurred just moments earlier, it serves to show we too are animals or have the potential to be. In that sense are we all repressed beings, outwardly playing by society’s rules but in fact, in our murkiest depths, far more depraved? The question, a frightening one is left unanswered.

Though the introductory video at the start is uncalled for and overextended, the dancers themselves are exceptional and the concept of the piece intriguing. In the main, Botis Seva is triumphant in an ambitious project.

Reviewed on 20 April 2019 | Image: Manuel Vason

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