A full house crammed into Dancehouse for the opening of Martin Hansen’s If it’s all in my veins, an exploration of dance history through animated gifs, and aims to question the linearity of time by opening up new possibilities.
Martin Hansen’s concept and choreography focuses on presenting moments in dance via gifs, and having his performers imitate them live. The piece comes from an initial exploration as part of the Keir Choreographic Award Finals in 2016, and while engaging and with a great concept, feels like it has a lot of exploration and work to go to realise the full potential of this concept.
Set was done well, with mostly a blank stage that was dressed and changed by the performers and narrated by a countdown clock that showed you how fast paced the show was, with the performers on average having 20-30 seconds to change the lighting and layout of the set to assemble for the next gif. Two projects presented the gifs across the stage, either on screens of boards held by the cast members, and the cast are constantly moving different types of lighting or chairs to create new spaces on the stage.
Performers Hellen Sky, Michelle Ferris and Georgia Bettens are accomplished mimics of the movements, though not quite in sync with the screen and gifs presented, or each other at different points in the show, but they are engaging to watch and truly exert themselves across the show. They navigate changing the lighting, setting up chairs, and all set changes well, and make great use of the large space at Dancehouse.
Spoken word was used during this show with constant repetition of phrases like “These are my wildest dreams, you don’t get to be unkind” and “This is a demonstration, This is my generation” but the words and the song and the message didn’t seem to link in well with the dance moves and the feel of the piece, as well as what the piece claims to be exploring.
Unfortunately the work doesn’t seem to climax in anyway, and the repetition of movements and gifs doesn’t seem to add real value to the piece – the gifs are redone and presented as each performer performing the movement, repeated on stage live as well, but this doesn’t seem to be drilling home a specific message or point. It’s lovely to watch but becomes repetitive quickly as it isn’t offering the viewer anything new to the show.
The point of the show claims to be envisaging the possibility of dance history coming to an end today, and reimagining the future of dance, and I wish this was more of a focal point of the show. The show presents movements that claim “this is my generation”, and then shows the works of Nijinsky, Pavlova and more, dancers who are not of this gif loving generation. There’s no feeling of journey through the history of dance, only looking at a certain silver of golden age classical dance, and no real feel for looking at the future of dance, only the imitation of the past.
The show has great potential and a great concept to explore a lot of different elements of dance and history of dance, and I would really like to see the journey this piece goes on, as I believe it has great future potential. It could be done as an installation piece or performance piece, and embrace many more different styles and points in history in dance, as well as use a greater variety of gifs, but the concept as a whole shows off a really interesting way of presenting modern contemporary dance.