Dream City (Droomstad), Traverse Theatre, Imaginate Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Wies Merkx, in collaboration with the crew (choreography), La Corneille, in collaboration with the choreographer (composition), Charles Corneille (stage design),Cees van Gemer (production and organisation)
Sander de Bie, Stephan Bikker, Guy Corneille, Daan Crone, Josephine van Rheenen, Noemi Wagner, Melanie Weijters
Running time

De Dansers, from Utrecht in the Netherlands, dance like no-one’s watching but ‘door Christ!’ you’ll be glad you did!

The Traverse stage is set with the requisite tools of a rock band: keyboard, drum-kit, microphone and electric guitar. Beneath a clothes-rail displaying a range of colourful outfits, sits a female dancer looking for all the world like a living rag doll. She stays, miraculously, perfectly still until the houselights dim and the musicians take up their positions, to begin what turns out to be an extraordinary piece of ensemble theatre.

The man on the mike begins by making loud snoring noises, with silence between and a perfect stillness all around. The calm before the storm. As he takes up his harmonica and begins to make it wail, the movement begins. Determined but unsteady, the doll tries to stand and walk. She is led into the open space by others who support her but also throw her about a bit.

The full band strikes up and those who are not dancing, join in. They sit around playing with rainmakers, or move about clapping and shouting encouragement. The dancing becomes increasingly energetic and frenetic, matching the background music and noise. The clothes are tried on and discarded in piles on the floor. Dancers move in and out of the action, sometimes moving out of sight, sometimes sitting on the sidelines, at other times collapsed, motionless for a while, on or under the piles of clothes.

There is complete abandonment and an infectious, exhilarating sense of freedom. This is a dance that has as much in common with Parkour as it does with any familiar dance style. It is rhythmic, unmannered and uninhibited. They throw themselves against the walls and each other and appear to spontaneously react to the space, its obstacles and the backing track. While they are rolling, whirling, running and jumping over each other, the original doll appears. Lying face-down on a skateboard she wheels round the musicians and under precariously low platforms and tables with envious skill and an unbounded sense of fun.

Indiefolk band La Corneille created the soundtrack with choreographer Wies Merkx who, in turn, collaborated with the dance crew. The result is total synchronicity. This is not just a performance, it suggests a philosophy for life: feel the mood, forget your fear, and then let go… together!

14th – 17th May