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At first it may seem strange to include a dance company in the National Review of Live .-\rt. l)\'.\"s l.|oyd Newson is delighted. however. ‘I think it gives us a licence to he more experimental than if w e were in. say. a dance festival. 1 think if we're going to keep developing. we‘ve got to keep taking risks.‘
Newson formed DVS l’hysical 'l'heatre precisely to take risks.
l laving attended the London School of(‘ontemporary Dance. then worked with lixtemporary Dance for two years. he still felt hidehound. 'l was frustrated with the type of work that compromises. falling hack on dance aesthetic and producing lack of depth and coherence. I felt it didn't exploit dancers‘ own creativity. I Used to w ateh dancers warming up on the floor and think - ifonly I could capture that and what they’re saying ahout themselves through those movements.’
He and the dancers he works with iettison conventionally heautiful movements and hegin with improvisation. 'l‘he work they have done so far has often heen exciting. physically risky and emotionally direct. ‘l’m interested in finding ways of exploring psychological and emotional prohlems through movement. ' explains Newson. who originally trained in psychology. His latest piece. Dead Dreams of Monochrome Men. is rather hleaker than his earlier ones. ‘We tend to deal very much with our own personal lives. In the past we have discovered a lot ahout ourselves. 'l‘his one deals with loneliness and difficulty with trying to maintain relationships.’
The piece was loosely ( New son stresses loosely) inspired by reaction to Dennis Nilsen. ‘We thought. rather than just dismiss him as a monster. let's look at what some of the feelings were hehind his hehaviour.' L'sing sometimes alarming physical gestures. the piece explores the points at which suppressed feelings hecome dangerous and ahnormal. the way the search for love can hecome ohsessive and why —< prohlems that Newson feels need to he urgently addressed in the currently increasingly oppressive climate.
See Listings for performance details.
‘I use people instead of paint .' says Stephen Taylor Woodrow. His last work did literally just that ~ called ‘l-iving l’aintings’ it used people huilt into paintings who hung on the wall all day. The effect was rivetting. disturhing and drew people in hordes —over 150.0(lttcarnetosee it. His latest piece. (ioing Bye-Byes. has so far proved equally popular and possihly more disturhing. 'l‘he
gallery is turned into a hospital ward. in look. feel and smell. and along the walls are hospital heds. apparently empty. tucked down flat and tightly. But on closer inspection the heds prove to he inhahited living white faces stare up from the pillows. the l‘erformers' hodies huricd in the hed.
‘Basically it‘s a question of how people respond to ohiects and how they respond to people.‘ explains 'l'aylor Woodrow. 'l'm turning people into ol‘teets and seeing how people respond then. l suppose in hospital people are treated a little likeohiectsanyway -youcan‘t move. you can only wait for people to visit you as if they were visiting an exhihition.‘
Reactions have heen very varied. Some people find the work too much to take and flee instantly; many laugh perhaps slightly nervously; a few have taken pity on the performers and hrought them flowers.eat‘dsandchocolates~ asif they really were in hospital. In some way s. though. laylor Woodrow feels that this performance is not as physically gruelling for the performers as some of his earlier onesi ‘lt's more psychologically than physically draining hecause you're totally detenceless. You can't use your hands to protect your face or anything. It's more frightening.‘ lnitially a sculptor. 'l‘ay lor Woodrow works w ith a pool of performers. and though hased in London. prefers to show his pieces on tour. to audiences w ho are less hlase. l le toured living l’aintings to the ( )utcr l lehrides- ’lhcre w ere always good audiences —‘ they w erc genuinely pleased to see you.’
Somewhat taken ahack hy the popularity of his work. he is cautiouslypleased awareofthe dangerofhccoming ‘fashionahle’; glad that he has prov ed that the difficult area of work crossing the houndaries hctwecn art and performance can draw crowds. ‘lt
needn't necessarily he a minority thing. I think it‘s great w hen w hat has heen a hit of a ioke in the art world can he more important and more popular than more conventional art.‘
See Listings for performance details.
Von MagnetzﬂEl Sexo Surrealisto
The List 3()Sept — l3 Oct 1988 9