Innovative dance troupe Another Kind of Blue presents Flirt with Reality, a fascinating evening of dance enhanced by technology. Their mixed programme includes narrative pieces (like those that propelled them to fame on America’s Got Talent and Britain’s Got Talent) as well as more abstract pieces – with small video clips of their dancers and rehearsals thrown into the mix. In our interview with choreographer David Middendorp, he discusses the need to balance both the dance and projection elements of the show – and Flirt with Reality mostly succeeds.
Flirt with Reality Review
The dance show kicks off with a piece called Airman, during which a man dances accompanied by a fleet of drones. They emit blue blinks of light on the floor, occasionally glinting off the performer’s clear goggles. Dancer Antonino Milazzo approaches the objects – and when they lift off, he ducks below the surface. The drones look like constellations, but as the soloist curiously interacts with them, it looks as if he is playing with a group of incandescent jellyfish. Airman becomes particularly intriguing as the drones move three dimensionally in space (a step up from simply rising and lowering) and they mimic the dancer’s movement.
Duets: Flyland in a Room and As It Appears
The audience who followed Another Kind of Blue on both the British and American talent shows probably most enjoyed Middendorp’s duets: Flyland in a Room and As It Appears. Flyland in a Room is so cleverly staged, that it makes the viewers feel as if they are flying, sinking and charging across the clouds right with the Antonino Milazza and Corinne Cilia. It’s lyrical, poignant and delightful to watch.
Another Kind of Blue performed this choreography for Britain’s Got Talent in 2016 on (Season 10 Episode 2). You can find videos of the performance on YouTube; however, I must agree with choreographer David Middendorp: watching their work in person is special.
The second duet, As It Appears, is more exploratory than emotional. Jeroen van Acker finds himself in a painting, accompanied by Faizah Grootens. The couple row across a pond and swim together, but when they leap across swathes of land, the audience is already slightly immune to illusion (similar to one seen earlier in the show). The narrative opens and closes simply; but was it necessary to show the entrance and exit into the painting – or could the dancers just have appeared in the set, and explored the destination together?
Interestingly, performance companies are not the only companies that have paired dance and projection… EVA Air’s in-flight safety video also combines the two mediums.
Blue Journey plays with the concept of individuality as shown through silhouettes – all black on the white screen, except for two. Although a longer piece, it felt crowded with too many concepts and endless short vignettes: raining silhouettes, a faceless society parading on and off, a man snatching and casting a red shadow on the wall.
There are beautiful images, such as when the dancers transform into shadows, as the lighting fades, and when a woman struggles as her shadow wavers between blue and an anonymous black. But the piece seems hectic – and the music from Radiohead elicits a wannabe edgy vibe, like The Fast and the Furious movies (not in a good way).
The choreography seemed like a showcase of lyrical dance composition moves – the same large movements with stretched out arms and legs, perhaps with an undulation layered on top. Much of the movement stayed within the large kinesphere, but some of the brief solos from red-shadowed Klevis Elmazaj do freshen up the piece.
The large group piece Game Engine ends the show on a great note. The dancers work to build a computer and then they ‘encounter obstacles in an increasingly faster flow of on and off switches’. Although abstract, the piece is easy to watch; and it’s nice to see the whole company dancing together. This allows for classic choreographic tools like repetition and variation to appear. The live music from tabla player Niti Ranjan Biswas dramatically drives the piece until its surprising conclusion.
Seeing such innovative applications of dance and technology from Another Kind of Blue is truly exciting. Flirt with Reality provides a good amount of variety in just five pieces, and it is a relatively accessible show for modern dance newbies.
What were your favourite Another Kind of Blue pieces – whether you saw Flirt with Reality live or cheered them on during America’s Got Talent and/or Britain’s Got Talent?
Disclosure: Dance Dispatches received free admission to the dance show in exchange for an honest and professional review.