“Reverie” is a dance performance that immerses the audience in a metaphorical, fairytale-like ambiance, that only pops, like a balloon, when the music ends. It creates an almost narcotic state of mind, complete with classical music-inspired sounds and a full array of masks, costumes, and lights. What a way to open the newest edition of the Dance Umbrella Fest in London!
Do you know what gives me shivers? The moment when the show ends, performers come closer to light at the edge of the stage, and you suddenly realise that they are in fact… real humans. “Reverie” somehow amplified this moment as the mythical/animal masks were removed and the lights switched on. What a contrast!
“Reverie” is inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Carl Jung’s ideas about the subconscious. The choreography creates connections between the known and the unfamiliar, showing how they are interchangeable. It debates memories and the past – and how they play an important role in shaping the collective narrative.
The stories on stage, even though not closely knit, do have a common theme of mythical wonderland and dreams. The combination of sounds, breathing, and unusual combinations of shadows props, and moves did indeed put me in a kind of hypnosis.
Throughout the show, I was immersed in a trance-like experience with the sounds of music being at times overtaken by the dancers’ breaths (the “immersive” theatre shows could learn a lot from dance performances like this!). The movement was the definite hero here – it was a celebration of the beauty of bodies, both human and mythical ones.
The most visually striking moment happened by the end when the dancer was walking around the stage followed by balloons mimicking fireflies. As much as the flies were such a joy to look at (thanks to the little lights inside the balloons), the dancer was constantly waving his arms trying to get rid of them. I saw it as a metaphor for mental baggage that you carry, that other people enjoy looking at but you just can’t stand.
The shadows and lights are a huge theme at this performance: lights are carried around and moved by the performers, and shadows are always exquisitely highlighted, and almost equal in meaning to the moves of the dancers that cast them.
After all the theatre shows I’ve seen recently, this is like a striking scent of freshly roasted coffee beans in between strong, delightful perfumes. A show like “Reverie” will challenge your perception but also make hope for more. And luckily – there is more.
“Reverie” marks a start of this year’s edition of Dance Umbrella Festival, which is available for the audience to experience both live and online. As the Festival’s Artistic Director, Freddie Opoku-Addaie says: “Dance Umbrella must be accessible to audiences: the hardcore dance fans as well as the dance-curious.”
And it truly is – as confident as I am in terms of theatre, I’m still a beginner in terms of contemporary dance – I still felt very welcome and immersed in the experience, also thanks to the helpful Q&A hosted right after the show.
I’m the kind of person who values live experiences, but if you are not in London or just prefer watching a show from home, there is no option for you. The Digital Pass includes dance-related films, podcasts, and articles available on demand.
Concept, Direction, Choreography: Georgia Tegou & Michalis Theophanous
Dancers: Nathan Goodman, William James (JJ), Synne Lundesgaard, Virginia Poli
Costume Designer: Justin Smith / J Smith Esquire
Music Composition & Sound Design: Jeph Vanger
Find out more about Dance Umbrella Festival here.
Pingback: Navy blue by Oona Doherty - Sadler's Wells (Dance Umbrella Festival) - West End Evenings on October 8, 2022