Friday, 20 May 2016

Nora and Martyrs (RISE and Southside Fringe)

Eleanor Sikorski and Flora Wellesley Wesley are Nora, a contemporary dance duo. They perform the work of invited choreographers, using their bodies and training as a starting point.

Gustav and Jacob are The Creative Martyrs, a cabaret team. They perform their original songs, using their musical skills and voices as a starting point.

Despite coming from different performance cultures, both couples set their relationship to each other at the centre of their work. Evoking the theatrical tradition of the double-act (and alluding to Laurel and Hardy, Vladimir and Estragon, Orville and Keith Harris, Plato and Aristotle, even if not literally), they perform the process of self-creation in the collaborative mode.

In Bloody Nora (choreographed by Liz Aggiss and, consequently, having more than a few references to old time London fun), Sikorski and Wesley battle each other like rappers, exaggerating and mocking each other's gestures and fumbling together identities that take in Max Wall and the techniques of Bausch's 'dance-theatre'.

In Funny Trap (written by The Martyrs but performed primarily by Jacob), a story of treachery and imprisonment provides a context for Jacob's paranoia: Gustav's only contribution is a voice from off-stage that reminds Jacob of his eternal sentence. Yet this single line is the spine of Jacob's character, a mixture of the fear-inspiring absent father and the threat of political power. 

Because of Aggiss' style, Bloody Nora is closer to The Martyrs' cabaret than most contemporary dance, and the sparring between the dancers parallels the arguments that run through many Martyr's routines. Beneath the content of specific works, the performance of both couples exposes the necessity of another in the building of personality.

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