Two dapper gentlemen dance on a stage, tuxedoed and practised and feeling their songs. To pop hits and mirrorball classics, they induct the audience into their friendship and collaboration, with jokes and stories and practised moments of quiet. One has a disability, the other does not, but neither are trained and their movement is open to anyone.
Joy and the care of performers for each other are enduring ideas to build a performance around. What does it mean to be a dancer? It’s more than movement, more than can perhaps be explained to others, save by sharing in it. But the movement also makes you an artist. Whoever you are you choose how to move your own body in its idiosyncrasies, you sequence yourself to feel good. Through the bodies of Ian Johnston and Gary Gardiner, the audience get to think on this, before moving alongside and dancing as well.
Throughout, the fine line between speaking to and for someone is walked (danced) along. Johnston’s story is that of the show, and whilst Gardiner occasionally speaks for Johnston, the production plays with the maddening tone of well-meaning condescension that blights the worst type of 'engagement'. Whenever patronising approaches, Johnston undermines Gardiner’s character, and leaves no doubt that he retains his own agency. The audience hear a disabled voice talking about not just their disability or limitations, but their life and its passions, and their own artistry. (LC)
Dancer ran at Dance Base until August 28th - https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/dancer
Dancer - http://weareunlimited.org.uk/commission/dancer-ian-johnston/
21st Century Challenges - http://21centurychallenges.co.uk
Disability Arts Online Interview - http://disabilityarts.online/magazine/opinion/unlimited-2014-ian-johnston-dancer/
Dancing for Happiness - https://www.inverse.com/article/7861-science-explains-why-dancing-is-the-fast-way-to-make-yourself-happier
Disability Arts: The Challenge of Ensuring Creative Momentum - https://www.theguardian.com/culture-professionals-network/2015/sep/03/disability-arts-the-challenge-of-ensuring-creative-momentum
Disability Voices (British Library Sound Archive) - http://sounds.bl.uk/oral-history/disability-voices