"Marriage as movement beautifully portrayed"
by Jill Lawrie for remotegoat on 21/11/18

Surely one of the greatest things contemporary dance can do for its audience is to get you feeling you are in the dance. Umanoove achieve that and more in ‘The Knot’ which follows a successful run of ‘The Happiness Project’ from the same company.

Coming with vast international experience, choreographer Didy Veldman has assembled an impressive group of dancers whose interpretation of what it means to tie the knot is itself a note-worthy marriage of sound and movement. New music from composer Ben Foskett is used to stretch Stravinsky’s ‘Les Noces’ into a powerful score, as the dance rises and falls to meet its crescendos and lulls with satisfying physicality and balletic elegance.
With the lights still up, we are not yet paying full attention when the show begins and in our own time, perhaps as desire occurs individually to us, we allow ourselves to be drawn into the scene. This experience puts the audience into the action more effectively and with less disruption than breaking down the theatre’s fourth wall which comes later in the proceedings.

Dark but studded with light-bulbs the backdrop creates a striking canvas on which intense scenes of attraction, courtship and wedding rituals come in and out of focus. Some pairings just click and a dance ensues. In others one partner appears to be cast aside without so much as a glance back. Is this about experimentation in love? or a throwaway approach to marriage perhaps? The meanings are up for interpretation and a narrative, if there is one, hovers, at times frustratingly out of reach. Where the symbolism and roles take less work to decode, the dance is easier to enjoy. In some of the duets for example, the increasing complexity and intimacy of the dance is evocative of that deepening connection between a couple in a relationship, whose knowledge of each other grows through commitment and time.

The wedding party, whilst familiar, has updated gender roles and a lightly humorous bouquet scene, masterfully communicated by Mattieu Geffre in particular. When Critics Circle award-winner Dane Hurst is on stage, our eyes are glued to him, struck time and again by his effortless precision and grace.
As the show ends, there is a sense this dance, like marriage, will carry on, involving ever more combinations long after the curtain goes down.

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