BELLYFLOP brought their Fringe to a close on Friday in a squall of pop music. I’m not sure what the audience had been expecting, but I doubt they had anticipated they would end their evening out of their seats, dancing, groaning when the music ended…. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s begin at the beginning.
“I spin and spin and spin…. I have just turned 5 years old, the year is 1986 and Olof Palme has just been murdered.” Fade up to the familiar opening chords of Journey. This is where Nadja Hjorton begins, at her beginning as she remembers it. We are listening to, and watching Radio Dance, a narrative of a young woman’s life in dance, sandwiched between pop songs, presented to us as a radio show. Hjorton’s warm voice leads us through in the cosy dark, speaking from a pool of lamp-light and laptop-glow. A subtle dance then, of volume sliders, unscrewed thermos, jumper removal and coffee sips?
Hjorton weaves her story, connecting her growing self with her growing sense of the political. A picture starts to emerge of how an individual’s awareness and engagement in the world develops, through a series of intimate moments, wishes and world events. As someone who grew up with the radio constantly tuned to Radio 4 I find myself sinking into the performance as familiar, travelling with the story, absorbing little moments (like the “Freudian cambre”) and rolling with the shape of the words under Hjorton’s Swedish tongue. And when Hjorton does dance (yes, Hjorton does dance) it fits into the performance like an illustration into a children’s book.
Skip to the end: the same space an hour and a half later, and the audience have returned, this time to be welcomed by Gillie Kleiman and Sara Lindström for A Lyrical Dance Concert. Their offering for us is something of a cabaret, based on the premise that secretly, in the hidden places of our hearts, we all love pop songs. I have to confess that secretly, in the hidden places of my heart, I don’t (well, ok, there are exceptions. But mostly I’m a bit of a goth. It’s a cross I have to bear). But this little fact didn’t impair my enjoyment for one second.
What do I want to tell you about this work? Not much actually. I fear that if I tell you what to expect, all those little moments of delight will be lost, should you get a chance to see it – and I do hope you get a chance to see it. So, I will tell you about fairy lights. And haunting silhouettes under shining lamé. And that DIY aesthetic that we will look back on as the defining look of Now. And something indefinably nice about the transitions between sections. There is audience participation, but nothing to be afraid of, unless you fear shiny lamé ghosts.
You will come away having been invited to actively engage with the music that is so often just a background in our lives. It’s interesting and unexpected, but mostly playful. It does not include any Billy Idol, but I am pretty sure that is an oversight. And it ends, as we began, with the audience out of their seats, dancing.