Alex Down the Multi-Story Hole and Abandoned REVIEW by Lara Qualtrough

Fierce. Joy. Inclusive. Supportive. Innovative. Courage. COMMUNITY.

Alex down the Multi-Story Hole, a dance piece by Spiral Dance Company devised a narrative shadowing Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. What made this piece different? It was performed by people of varying abilities, and it was beautiful. Sure, there were some technicalities that needed some work; the actors weren’t easy to hear in the outdoor venue but the speaking lines were minimal, and the dance told the story of an adventure through magical lands. The travelers first enter a woodland with trees that just won’t stay still and a variety of characters. This scene is set, not with props or scenery, but exquisite masks worn by rehearsed dancers. The glittering dragonflies were my favourite, but each representation was so skillfully designed that it breathed life into what felt like a magical realm. We were then guided through other lands, displaying a variety of dance genres from belly dance to jazz. Each dancer had at least one solo and the group numbers were joyful to watch. The audience soaked up every dancer and dance, and cheered their friends/family on with glee. When it came to a joyful end, the audience erupted with the fantastic joy that we all felt from watching something so magically hopeful.

Abandoned, was devised by the Sunshine Troupe, a smaller cast that used simple props to convey the most powerful of messages: we all belong. Using cardboard boxes and choreography, the dancers took us on a journey of extremes. It seemed a simple performance, because it was so skillfully delivered, but it offered themes that we all feel, and the hope of what we can all decide to be.

Watching these two performances and feeling the energy of the audience, I couldn’t help but feel that these pieces were not about elite performances, but about belonging to a community, and the importance of choosing to belong. There may be any number of reasons why we may feel removed, but we alone have the ability to choose to be one of a group. Sadly, this was the only performance during Anywhere Festival. If you weren’t there, you missed out on feeling what it is like to truly belong to a supportive, friendly and caring community. My advice, take every opportunity to seek these performers out. You will create friends for life.