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Young Creatives Blog

Spear and Apocrifu

Monday 14 March 2016

  • Review

As I made my way to watch Spear, and then later that day Apocrifu, I couldn’t help but feel scared. I was so excited for these two shows and I had high expectations for them, so I was very scared that they wouldn’t be as good as I hoped. Luckily for me they both delivered.

Spear was a dance film directed by Stephen Page; artistic director of Bangarra Dance Theatre. Page has been artistic director of Bangarra for 25 years and as a result he’s a complete legend in my book, and he really knows what he is doing. Spear was Page’s first full length film, and there were a few weird camera angles here and there that made it clear, but as a whole I thought the film was absolutely brilliant. After 25 years of creating work, I suppose you get pretty tuned in to your aesthetic, and as you watched the film, you knew it was a Stephen Page film. He managed to take everything brilliant from his stage shows and adapt it to the new medium. He chose beautiful locations to shoot in, paired them with incredible dancing and he created pure magic on the screen. The film had a bit of everything, from very dark scenes to a bit of comedic relief, and what I love about Bangarra works: an optimistic ending. My personal favourite scene was the prison scene. The choreography was so brilliant and every step was infused with so much meaning, you just knew exactly what they were saying.

Often when I watch dance, I feel excluded, but with Bangarra work I always feel welcomed in to watch these stories. From a cultural perspective, this is probably a conscious decision they made, but I wish more dance was like this. It’s always nice to be challenged when you go to the theatre, but I don’t like spending the entire show trying to piece it all together. Bangarra lets you be moved and affected by what you’re being shown and then you have time to think about it later. You are invited in to hear these stories and to connect. Spear is beautiful and there is so much to get out of viewing this film. I love the fact that Bangarra is making dance and their stories more accessible. A ticket to a movie is cheaper than a ticket to a show, and if the film is available to buy on DVD you can take the movie with you, watch it anytime, rave to your friends about it and get them to watch it. I love Bangarra, I love everything they stand for and I absolutely loved this movie.

Before watching Apocrifu, I was able to meet the man behind the show, and so many other shows that I love, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. I still have no idea how to pronounce his name though. The Festival held a forum between Larbi, as he was introduced, and Ruth Little, the Festival’s self proclaimed ‘truffle pig,’ and professional dramaturg.  Larbi ‘the bendy Belgium’ is an interesting character; he is gay, vegan, doesn’t drink alcohol or smoke and has a Muslim, Moroccan father and Christian, Belgium mother. This combination has resulted in some awesome dance works, but it’s also handy for me when my parents try and tell me that I should eat meat, I can pull out the ‘well if Cherkaoui can be a vegan and be one of the world’s greatest choreographers then so can I’ line. The pair discussed a number of Cherkaoui’s work, some of which I’m studying this year at school so I was taking copious notes throughout. Seeing a work on stage is incredible, but hearing the stories behind it, where the ideas came from, the rehearsal drama, just makes you appreciate the art so much more and hearing Cherkaoui’s passion, whilst still being so modest, you begin to scratch the surface to the way this visionary’s brain works.

After the pleasure of hearing Cherkaoui discuss his works, I headed to the theatre to watch Apocrifu. The first thing I noticed was the set, it featured maybe 500 books, a book shaped staircase and a loft and it was definitely not your typical dance set, which I thought was awesome. Cherkaoui was joined on stage by circus artist Dimitri Jourde, ballet-trained Yasuyuki Shuto and A Filetta, a polyphonic vocal ensemble. In complete honesty I had to ask one of the music students at my school to explain to me what polyphonic singing is, I still don’t quite understand but it was beautiful to listen to. The work explores the truth of religious texts, I believe I wrote an English essay on this topic a few years ago; however Cherkaoui’s exploration was more advanced than mine. There were moments in the show that were a bit weird and strange, and then there were moments that were purely breathtaking and I could have watched over and over again. Jourde’s painted solo followed by his duet with Cherkaoui, was one of those moments that was beautiful whilst also being heartbreakingly truthful in the choreography and delivery. Cherkaoui’s heartbreaking final solo, followed by a haunting ending, managed to have me in tears whilst giving a standing ovation. A weird sensation. The work centred on religious texts, but when the dancers where performing you couldn’t see what books they were dancing with, and in that ambiguity the work became universal. All throughout history words have been used for good and they’ve been used for bad. Words have so much power, and for me that’s what the piece explored, and that allowed me to connect with the piece on so many different levels. Maybe they’re dancing with the Bible, maybe the Koran; maybe it’s the Communist Manifesto. All the books have arguably caused a lot of pain, and the ambiguity allowed different parts of me to connect as opposed to just religious Ariane who thinks she might be an atheist, who was raised Catholic, and doesn’t really know who she is, and just finds religion confusing.


Young Creative: Dance

Written By Ariane Beyer