Correction Photo VerTeDance Company

Correction
Photo VerTeDance Company

Zoo Southside, Edinburgh
August 17, 2015

David Mead

Seven dancers in a line. For an hour they never move their feet. They can’t. Their shoes are solidly superglued to the floor. It sounds different and it is. It also sounds like an idea that might last ten minutes if you are lucky. Think again, because while it might break many of the so-called rules for good choreography, it’s the cue for an hour of inventive and hugely entertaining dance from VerTeDance Company from Prague.

This being bound, the inability to move from the spot stems from director Jiří Havelka’s notion that we are all tied by who and what we are: our work, relationships, hopes, fears and more. Much of the time, escape is in our own hands, and yet we don’t do it; for whatever reason we stop ourselves breaking loose.

Given the lack of a programme, I’m not sure how many of the audience got the deeper meaning. Not that it matters, because Correction works perfectly well as a feast of innovative ideas and pure dance with a surprising amount of variation in the choreography as gravity is defined again and again. There’s plenty of humour too, often subtle, often done with little more than a look. When the odd moment of unison arrives, it’s striking and on one occasion near the end, downright beautiful.

A surprising amount of diversity is to be found in the choreography, despite the dancers’ inability to use their feet or lift each other. Slow forward leans, ordinarily impossible, now defy the pull of gravity. Moments of unison, although rare, are striking when they come.

The dancers start with small movements. Their fingers twitch as if awakening, then their hands, arms and eyes. They take in the world around with the wide-eyed curiosity and playfulness of children. They poke each other, prompting a metronomic swaying from side to side. Sometimes they set each other off in sequences reminiscent of a Newton’s cradle. Angles get steeper and bodies lean at increasingly crazy angles. Moments of fun slowly emerge, with Robo Nižník, clearly something of a joker in the pack.

The pushing and falling gets increasingly extreme but every time the urge is not to escape but to return to standing; to conform. Dancers fall on their backs and frequently struggle to get back to their feet, but while the others look on and show interest, there is little in the way or care. While they may use each other as supports to pull themselves up, they rarely proactively help each other; another comment on society, perhaps.

Nižník produces a banana, and offers it to his fellow dancers. Each takes a bite as it’s passed down the line and back again. Do they leave him any? No, only the empty skin.

Towards the end there’s an extended argument-cum-fight scene full of split second timing and flying arms and bodies. There’s a sense of frustration – with the situation and each other – and of a need to escape. The solution is easy, of course: simply step out of the shoes. Yet, when the idea finally occurs, they try to stop each other. Society never was fond of those who break free, who do not conform.

It ends with the cast partying wildly amid strobing lights. And yet, they remain rooted to the spot, stuck with who and what they are.

All this is accompanied superbly by the four musicians of the Clarinet Factory in a mix of live and recorded music that’s a tasty classical-cum-jazz-cum-minimalist mix, with a dash of vocals and improvisation tossed in for good measure.