Andante at The Lowry
In Andante’s first (smokeless and fragrance free) part, the four dancers enter individually, at glacial speed and with deadpan expressions, walking on fire crackers down the sides of the performance space. Stepping out of their shoes one by one, they enter the main space, and spend the next ten minutes or so alternately walking towards the audience and backwards away from them, intoning a different note each, and then another fifteen in synchronized movements involving various couplings. All this to the sound of synthesized music that starts quietly enough but then builds to a threatening crescendo, at which the troupe exits.
The second part starts by engulfing the studio in thick perfumed smoke that renders much of what follows invisible when the lights are up, which is a shame as the dancers are hard at work performing what appears to be a cross between a square dance (the Cumberland Square Eight came to mind), and Scottish Country dancing. Eventually the dancers revert to the forwards/backwards walking from the first part, and, as the music diminishes in volume they disappear into the smoke, never to return, leaving the audience to work out if it’s all over or not. We spent a few minutes reflecting on what we’d just experienced and then followed behind those brave enough to be the first to leave.
Did we enjoy it? It’s not easy to see what enjoyment means in this context. The perfumed smoke was an interesting idea, and not many people choked on it. It was like being in a room where everyone was vaping. Terpsichorean skills were certainly evident and the dancers all had beautiful feet. The lighting plot was a bit overdone, most likely intentionally, and this did detract from our overall appreciation. It would have been good to show our appreciation in the usual way when it was all over but we weren’t able to.
Would we go back and see it again? Probably not.
By Paul Schofield for Canal St Online.