Chalk & Of Land and Tongue are two dance performances directed by Theo Clinkard.
Chalk is a beautiful dance performance about the iconic cliffs of Beachy Head, Eastbourne; Theo’s home town. Theo and James Keane portray Beachy Head in such an extraordinary and beautiful way. Theo and James were standing on a tiny piece of chalk each, balancing there as we took our seats. I didn’t quite know what I was about to watch, but I was intrigued, right from the start.
The performance features brilliant live music, and organic sounds; the crunching of vegetables and smashing of chalk. James remixes the sounds right there, once the smashing and crunching has been done, creating atmospheric music.
The dance is enthralling, and moves with Theo in a way I had never seen before. This was the first contemporary dance I had been to. I was used to watching ballet, or street dance; a more structured and routine form of dance. Theo danced elegantly, yet fast, and the sort of dancing you have trouble keeping up with. I felt out of breathe just watching.
The theme of suicide, and life are prominent. Beachy Head is known for its many suicide attempts with Theo makes the audience aware of this through his dance, which has great impact. There was an atmosphere created through such thought provoking dance, and music. Through dance, props and words Theo explains the composition and formation of chalk. A perhaps mundane topic, yet it seemed so important within the performance. It was fundamental, and the essence of the whole performance.
Of Land & Tongue
Of Land and Tongue, also directed by Theo, is a beautiful dance experience about language, and a range of untranslatable words from foreign cultures. Words can have lots of meaning, whilst some have hardly any. Of Land and Tongue explores those words that are untranslatable. The arrangement of the dance was unusual, yet engaging and the audience were constantly involved, and engaged with the cast. A brilliant yet complex way of performing, it was visually pleasing, and the music was overflowing with vibrant sound. They portrayed many words that represent emotions and actions which are common and universal yet are untranslatable. This brought the audience together, and gave us all the “oh yeah, I know that feeling” revelation throughout.
The staging of both performances were right at the feet of the audience. Literally, we were at the front, on the edge of the stage. We were close enough to hear the dancers bones click as they danced, and for them to intersperse quickly throughout the performance to interact with us; a kind of experience you wouldn’t normally get. This brought the dances to life.
I felt like I was there, entangled with the dancers, as if I were dancing with them. It’s an enthralling way to perform, along with the live music, and words spoken by the performers. I was in suspense throughout.
Theo performed beautifully, portraying the difficult topic that surrounded Beachy Head. It wasn’t all doom and gloom though, there was a hint of comedy throughout the two performances. Theo was dancing around in a skeleton outfit, and the dancing in, Of Land and Tongue was occasionally comical.
One minute I was in suspense and holding on for dear life – metaphorically speaking of course, and then the next minute I was laughing hysterically. Theo and his double bill performances will be touring again in from April 2015 and I would highly recommend them.
Words by Natasha Ward
Photography by Roswitha Chesher