Arts Review: Illuminate

GSDC, Mitchell Theatre, 17 – 18 Feb

One of the dances of Glasgow Student Dance Company’s show ‘Illuminate’ opens with the words of Chimamanda Adichie, sampled in Beyonce’s song Flawless: “We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls ‘You can have ambition, but not too much. […] We teach girls that they can not be sexual beings in the way that boys are. Feminist: A person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.” The whole show seems to be a celebration of Adichie’s words, a celebration of female strength and girls, or any way they may identity, coming together and standing together.

Considering this is just a student dance company, the level of choreography and the variety of detailed, gorgeous costumes is incredible. The shows features impressions of a circus fair, a revolution, robotic clubbers and green fairies with ivy twisting the strands of their hair. However, being all dressed up as animals in coloured morph suits including legwarmers, tails, ears and a some fur is a bit too far, in my opinion. Similarly, sometimes the music choices are a little interesting too. Why you would combine “live fast, die young, bad girls do it well” with a sensual belly dance is beyond me, and takes away from the quality of the movements of hips and belly.

While many dances are up-beat contemporary, modern and hip-hop, there is an exciting variety of styles, including Irish, ballroom, jazz, tap and something with clear Spanish influences. The yells of enthusiasm coming from the audience during a Highland dance, performed in black and white dresses, positively exceed those exclaimed during the dance before, an exciting funky hip hop track, showing an appreciation for diversity.

The moments between the end of a dance and the start of the following are those of wonder, curiosity and fascination for what has just been performed. The lights blacked out, the short moment of an empty stage as one crew leaves and the other comes on – while it might be good to have a moment of rest before the next spectacle, it establishes a huge gap between a high of a dance to a fall back into darkness. It’s a shame, as there is a risk that a show consisting of such high quality dances turns into more of a presentation rather than a proper performance.
[Aike Jansen]  

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