Dance is now illegal. Under the restrictive mobility act, movement as a form of expression has been completely banned. It has fallen to three unlikely heroes to save dance for all: a trio of dancing MPs are fighting back.
The End of Dance at the Vault Festival highlights the continued importance of fringe theatre in political satire with an experimental and provocative performance. Colin (Yann Allsopp), Nigella, (Rebecca Kenny), and Liz (Sophie Winter) deliver a fighting performance as we are forced to realise just how easily our own rights can be stripped away. Freedom of movement and the freedom to express through dance does not apply only to those that dance well, but also to those that dance badly. Yann Allsopp’s absurd and loosely plotted piece is flawed but relevant and certainly unlike anything you have ever seen before.
Nigella, Liz and Colin invite their constituents (us) to a local meeting in which they explain exactly what the “End of Dance Bill” actually means and how it will affect our day to day lives. By answering audience questions it appears that it is very difficult to define what dancing really is: “when does movement become dance?” Colin has succumbed to the growing anti-dance hysteria; mirroring the often toxic rhetoric of last year’s EU referendum he states that “British dance must be kept for British people”, citing the rise in foreign genres diluting the purity of British style. “There are swarms of dancers coming into Britain every year” Colin frequently declares, much to the agitation of Liz. Nigella, taking the more central stance, is frequently caught between the interruptive battles of the right and left often powerless to intercede. However what begins as a discussion panel soon descends down the rabbit hole.
Described as a non-dance piece about dance, the premise for the production is certainly an interesting one although there are still questions remaining due to the experimental nature of the result. Dance acts as an allegory for our other political injustices and emphasises the almost farcical reasoning behind the division that exists in our politics at the moment. Slogans such as #JeSuisDance and #DancersLivesMatter are used as a part of these MPs’ protest to “Give Dance a Chance”, and a series of bizzare movement pieces accompany these scenes demonstrating the body as a both a means and a symbol of protest. Dance itself in this allegory is a form that can bring people together as well as acting as a means for dissent. This production engages with the wider debate around the role of the arts within society and the importance of arts funding. Whilst protesting, Liz demands of the audience, “where were you when they came for the Ballerinas? […] where were you when they cut the Arts Council”. To these dancing MPs the worst crime is to stand still when what politics and society needs is a “movement”. Dance as a means of expression Is a threat to a static government and the threat to freedom of movement can warrant less discussion than the style of parliamentary paperclips.