14/02/2017 - 15/02/2017
In the age of couched entertainment what might happen if you take a trip to the theatre?
Feeling Groovy is a Dance Theatre work that will make you question what Dance Theatre even is and help you leave with an urge to get out and see more.
Jacob Edmonds premieres his first solo work after a year of creating dance film. With all the conceptual goo that comes with contemporary dance in the current day and age Feeling Groovy is designed to be a work that comes back to the beginning of dance and theatre. Answering the questions “What is Dance Theatre?” and “Why should I pay to see a show when I have Netflix?”
All Saints Conference Centre, 90 Hamilton Road, Hataitai, Wellington
Tuesday 14 Feb – Wednesday 15 Feb
7:00pm & 7:45pm (30 mins)
Fringe Addict $18
General Admission $23
Group 6+ $20
Physical , Dance-theatre , Comedy ,
Thoughtful, ambitious experiment still feeling its way
Review by Chris Jannides 16th Feb 2017
Jacob Edmonds asks some questions about contemporary dance in his solo show Feeling Groovy. They are questions he necessarily feels are in the minds of audiences. They are questions that clearly concern him as a dance artist, fundamental of which is the one he asks an audience member: “What is dance theatre?”
What Edmonds has created is a kind of performative lecture demonstration about the meaning of dance. He aims at enlightening us about this topic through a light-hearted approach. Between bouts of loose-limbed movement, he speaks, acts and mimes. This is direct-address theatre. He introduces the work as an experiment and this is how it can be evaluated – as an experiment.
Along with sharing his viewpoint on how we should be viewing dance, Edmonds would mainly seem to be testing his own voice as an emerging dance artist.
He tries out different techniques. Humour and warmth. Goofing and clowning. Audience interaction. Improvisation. Speaking while dancing. Philosophical chit-chat. De-bunking the art form. Trying to make it more ‘accessible’. Like a spiked drink, he buries seriousness inside a great deal of foolishness and frivolity.
While spiking drinks is a sneaky activity, the saving grace for Edmonds is that it’s obvious he’s doing it. He has a message to impart, but how best to do it? That’s his experiment… and problem. How can he both tell us what he wants to say about dance in as clear a way as possible, while at the same time let the art form speak for itself without need of commentary and explanation. Tricky territory! One hand gives, while the other takes away!
In the words of renowned media theorist Marshall McLuhan, “The medium is the message.” High and low can combine in art to create even stronger insights. In the hands of the immortal bard, Kings and jesters do this all the time. For me, the mixed-medium that Edmonds is testing is still in an early experimental phase. There are structural and performance weaknesses that an outside eye might have alerted him to that would have strengthened the synergy he seeks between his message and his method.
Artists in theatre who tell us what to think or how to be as viewers tread slippery ground. There’s a minefield here riddled with assumptions that can’t be thrown like a blanket over any and every group of people. Dance audiences will range from highly sophisticated connoisseurs to those who find the art form elitist and confusing.
If base-line assumptions about how audiences view contemporary dance are based on the latter – i.e. on the dance illiterate and disenchanted – then the artist will alienate its main supporters and have to go out into the world to try to convert those who stay away from it, if they can be coerced into experiencing it first. The medium and its message then become a mission, and the artist a missionary.
Is this what Edmond’s has decided is his artistic goal and purpose? Is this what he’s testing? The innocence of the fool and the clown, which he chooses to play here, becomes either the earnest innocence of an artist finding their way, or the calculated manipulation of someone condescending to know what’s best for us.
The message is clear, but the method might need a bit more soul-searching. Feeling Groovy is still feeling its way. It’s a thoughtful, ambitious experiment in development.
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