Saturday, 11 June 2022

Candoco at the Lowry

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 Candoco Dance Company Set and Reset/Reset and Last Shelter The Lowry, 11 May 2022 19:30

The Candoco Dance Company is one that I have long wanted to see because it has received much critical acclaim.  A quotation from The Observer that appears on its website describes it as "the company for which choreographers reserve their wildest and often most inventive work."  I got my chance to see it on 11 May 2022 when it visited The Lowry to perform Set and Reset/Reset and Last Shelter in the Quays auditorium.

According to its history page, the company developed out of inclusive workshops at London’s Aspire Centre for Spinal Injury.  It was the first live performance that I saw after my injury on 19 March 2022 when I was temporarily struggling on crutches. I marvelled at the virtuosity of Markéta Stránská who used hers to power across the stage with the speed of a cheetah and the grace of a gazelle while I found it an effort to trudge to The Quays from the car park.

The company treated us to two works:  a reconstruction by Abigail Yager of Trisha Brown's Set and Reset/Reset and Jeanine Durning's Last Shelter.   Set and Reset/Reset was immediately appealing with a catchy score and plenty of action.  The humming chatter that David Nixon called "the best sound in the work" erupted around the auditorium as the lights came on.  Last Shelter was a very different work starting off slowly and punctuated with dancers' soliloquies including one from Stránská in what I guess must have been Czech. There was less chatter and more thought as the public left the theatre at the end of the performance.  Although it took longer for me to get my teeth into Last Shelter and I probably need to see it again at least once to appreciate it properly, I enjoyed both works. 

The name "Candoco" appears to combine "can do" with "co" as an abbreviation for company.  It seems to affirm that disability and injury need not mean an end to creativity. When Candoco started in the 1990s such affirmation needed to be trumpeted.  Since then, other companies including the national classical dance companies of Wales and Scotland have staged works for disabled and non-disabled dancers (see An Explosion of Joy 23 Sept 2014 and No Mean City - Accessible Dance and Ballet 26 April 2015). While continuing to showcase the work of dancers with disabilities as well as those without out, it is increasingly celebrated for its innovation and ingenuity.