Thick & Tight’s Ten Year Show delivers boundary breaking work

To mark their 10th Anniversary of Thick & Tight founders Eleanor Perry and Daniel Hay-Gordon curated Short & Sweet, a dance show that appeals to the queer sensibility, underpinned by strong ideas around identity, inclusion and authenticity. Working with a group of dance artists, the classically trained dancers (Rambert School) presented a series of short vignettes, that cut through the noise and grandiosity that sometimes gets associated with dance, and delivered beauty, realness, risqué humour, meticulous detail, high camp hi-jinks, all finished off with a delicious parody.

Photo by Darren Evans

It wasn’t until after the first performance it dawned on me that during the intervening years of blackout I’d forgotten how this kind of dance show works: choreographed by one person or in this case one company Thick & Tight; and how you are afforded a window into a variety of dance styles, characters, storytelling and body shapes. Nine works all completely different each performance of the highest quality. 

It would be unfair to both artists and future audiences to give away all the secrets but I would like to make a few comments as its been so long since I’ve seen any dance. First the opening piece which in the programme was called Two Moths in Real Time, but, which I hadn’t read, so I mistook their antennae in the costuming, for that of retro-fitted robots. 

Instead of insects I saw two melancholy android figures each slowly coming to life, discovering and learning movement in order to interact with the world and each other, a building of energy and courage expressed through bolder sequences. Then, dramatically each becoming their own ghosts. The lighting effect creating ethereal shadows, imprinted on my mind like a dusty hologram. In hindsight, having read the description, I can see now how the flickering movements, the emphasis on the lights, might be assigned to the natural world. 

I must stress that the movement in no way felt stiff or robotic or repetitive, but there was a sense the intention was coming from an alien place which I mistook for mechanical. The space between human and non-human, the constructed and the natural, is a constant fascination and underlies my misreading of this work. 

Sid Vicious may seem an unlikely queer icon but delinquency and innocence are so often endearing, and punk was a performance all about attitude so why the hell not? Connor Scott embodies Sid like a second skin, like your favourite bedroom pin-up come to life: it’s sexy; it’s dirty, the choreography is gloriously louche and pure rock n roll. In a similar vein Twiggy is brought back in that iconic dress and boots, the movement, the look, the attitude is so exacting, that it feels like she is right there in the room: meticulous studies both. 

Azara Meghie brings her own story through spoken word, into her snapshots of Grace Jones with hi- energy routines sending rapturous ripples of appreciation among the exuberant Lowry crowd, whereas the legendary lover Grigori Rasputin has everyone in fits, with a dance that will live long in the memory.  

Daniel and Eleanor have taken lip-syncing to the next level with some of the works in this show, none more so than in an imagined meeting (I assume it’s imagined) between John Cage and Elaine Page – a more avant-garde pairing you will not find –  a tour-de-force in portraiture and parody, simultaneously surreal, nostalgic and utterly beguiling. 

Short & Sweet by Thick and Tight delivers excellence beginning to end proving time and again, that dance can be anything and everything, and that everything is dance. 

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Filed under #projectqueer, dance

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