This is a beautiful and intriguing piece of work about beauty and the ways in which it is harnessed, homogenised and distorted for commercial purposes. Through delicate use of movement, words and music along with effective imagery and film displayed on a floor to ceiling screen, the performance shows while beauty may exist in objective isolation, once a context is applied, it may be made ridiculous, even dangerous in its power to project inappropriate meaning.
The production is interspersed with delightful humour, brought about by the paced use of repetition, pause and imagery in pieces replicating adverts, where the blatant manipulation of our emotions, needs and values as perceived by the advertising industry becomes both transparent and absurd.
Marlieke Burghouts is a most interesting performer, displaying through movement not only an astonishing ambiguity of gender at times but also, the extreme femininity required by the vision of women the advertising world prefers. There is a long gaze in film at the truth of her, an opportunity to look and see her beauty, without that vision attached.
Nick Bryson, one of the two choreographers and directors, has the role of able bodied male in the piece as a counterpoint to the sensitivity of Michael Turinsky, his movement exhibiting joy and abandon.
Michael Turinsky, academically trained as a philosopher and working as a theorist, dancer and choreographer, is a physically disabled performer and communicates through use of his body, with extraordinary and brave vulnerability, the poignancy of not matching conventional standards of beauty for the body in movement. These were described in phrases spoken out loud, as he sat in a wheelchair at the start of the piece, such as, “How like an angel the human body is unfettered” and “Beauty in movement is dynamic, all parts move to complete.” Yet he too becomes beautiful, a person who feels and gives love, as he moves onto the floor and the big screen and by this means causes the idealised standards previously described of the human body, to be questioned in a way that is vital.
It was notable, in the post show discussion, that when members of the audience were asked by Mr Dingemans, one of the choreographers, for their impressions of the work, the beauty of the work was mentioned repeatedly while the disability aspect was identified only towards the end of the comments. That reflects the apt, non gratuitous way it was used in context, a privilege to see and experience.
The final tableau of the evening describes with power, the means by which images, harmless on their own, may be combined and multiplied to attribute extraordinary characteristics to inanimate objects in this instance, while also acting as a potent reminder of the dangers of imagery being used in politics to create propaganda.
The Point At Which It Last Made Sense deals with the issues around the personal and cultural charisma of beauty, its poignancy, even its mortality, most beautifully.
Review by Marian Kennedy
Robin Dingemans & Nick Bryson – The Point At Which It Last Made Sense
Using dance, sound and video, this collaboration between Robin Dingemans and Nick Bryson shows beauty in all its forms – from the profound to the superficial, and everything in between. Dancers Michael Turinsky and Marlieke Burghouts navigate audiences through an emotional study of vulnerability, compassion, and the frivolities of modern society.
Toying with the marketing norms already lodged inside our own minds, The Point At Which It Last Made Sense subverts and unravels our presumptions about the nature of beauty and its place within the advertisement-soaked world we all inhabit.
Following on from the success of the =dance strand, Sadler’s Wells continues its commitment to presenting dance by deaf and disabled dance artists.
Lilian Baylis Studio
Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R
9th October 2015