Candoco’s Counter Acts by Cara Wheeler (aged 15)

Guest Review of Candoco's Counter Acts, Brighton Dome February 17 2017

I went into the theatre feeling very apprehensive about the whole situation, what was it going to be like? Was there going to be a clear storyline? What was I going to be experiencing tonight? I had no idea (other than it included disabled and non-disabled dancers). As soon as the show started the beautiful dancing and soundtrack captivated me. There was a scene where the dancers on wheelchairs were almost hidden by this piece of black shiny material; to me it felt like this was a metaphor for the visibility of disabled people but that might’ve just been my critical mind trying to find things that related to the dancers.

Throughout the whole show there were four main reoccurring themes; trust, feeling trapped, manipulation and visibility. Trust played a large part, as the dancers worked together to create entrancing movements, there were parts where they would use the large black material to create a slingshot motion and the other dances would catch the dancer that had been ‘thrown’. This also links in with the themes of manipulation and feeling trapped. The manipulation aspect isn’t so clearly to do with the dancers themselves but rather the material, and perhaps the material represents society and it’s the limitations it causes for disabled people.

One of the female dancers who was disabled had solo a part where she abandoned her crutches and interacted with a large black malleable wall. At the end of this solo piece the wall intentionally fell down. I interpreted this as her breaking down the walls of constraint from being disabled. However, I was unsure about whether disabled dancers could be in dance productions that were about any topic or whether dance productions they were in always had to be about disability. In the near future will we have disabled dancers that are separate from the stigma of disability?

Image: Beheld by Alexander Whitley, Photographer: Hugo Glendinning 2015

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