Review – Running at convention

2013-07-06 11:53

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

It is no simple task to write about the visual aspects of Nicola Elliott’s latest work.

It is energetic, the dancers are incredible athletes, the accompanying music is masterfully executed – but the movement isn’t easy on the eye. It is as discordant as the music becomes as the piece unfolds. And this is how she grapples with the issues in Run!

Elliott is an award-winning choreographer and director who makes dance theatre, rather than dance.

I admit to having had to pick the brains of a dance fundi to understand the movements, but Elliot’s message is as clear as if she’d shouted it in words. She uses movement to explore the way the feminine is perceived, how it is expected to be and she completely subverts that.

The beauty of conventional dance moves is replaced with running and with movements more associated with sport than dance. It is also a male domain and in some ways Run! reclaims this space too.

The piece’s central theme is about reclaiming space and questioning the status quo. The four dancers at one point test the boundaries of their stage – pushing at the curtains draped down the sides and back of the auditorium and leaning aggressively into the audience to lay claim to the space.

It is symbolic, perhaps, of taking back the female space as well as the right to write what the feminine likes.

It also explores ordinary movements and interrogates what makes them ordinary and why they shouldn’t be redrawn extraordinarily.

The dancers “run” at the preconceived notions of society. The piece runs at convention and at the conventions of dance too. Why should dance be full of pirouettes? Why should the bodies move in a prescribed way?

These are the questions that the piece puts to the audience too. Elliott’s choreography goes so far as to question the movement constraints she is using to question the societal constraints.

The dancers wear costumes that are familiar, but with a twist – they hint at a baby doll dress and tennis whites. A

ll the dancers are dressed in outfits befitting the feminine, the “lady” – then they precede to not “act like ladies”, to again subvert the expected.

The vagina, which, because of society’s obsession with it must also always be reclaimed for personal use only, is represented in Run! in the red underwear the dancers wear.

It is jarring after the chaste whiteness of the beginning, to be confronted with the vagina in such a crude way, but then society’s treatment of the vagina, too, is almost always crude.

The audience, unsurprisingly, laughed uncomfortably when presented with just the representation of the female genitalia, in a piece that spent so long reclaiming space as neutral it’s a shock to be confronted again with the sex of the issue.

Run! isn’t easy viewing. It is a piece of dance theatre that requires brain engagement and active interpretation. Elliott doesn’t let up on the audience and demands attention. Run! won’t find a broad audience, but in the contemporary dance space it asks compelling questions.

» Run! is on at Transnet Great Hall at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown today at 2.30pm and 7pm, and tomorrow at 12.30pm.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


5 top leg exercises for men

Here’s our selection of the five best leg exercises that you can do in the comfort of your own home.


You won't want to miss...

10 best dressed men of 2017
How to open a beer bottle without an opener
WATCH: Man films himself going down water slide upside down as things go very wrong…
WATCH: Conor McGregor: Notorious the trailer
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.