Laurie Booth‘s dance at the RSAMD. Kahoon Kahoon. updating the Medea myth, Theatre Positive
and Magic Circus.
LISTINGS: THEATRE 44 CABAET 47 DANCE 48
Booth to Boot
Laurie Booth, highlight of New Moves dance season, finds his balance with Jo Roe.
‘It‘s like learning to ﬂy or ride a bicycle,’ says top British choreographer Laurie Booth, soon to appear in Glasgow‘s festival of new dance, New Moves. ‘You spend a lot oftime learning how to get the machine off the ground, or how to get the balance. You learn where the brakes are and how to fall off. But actually doing it is something else.‘ He is talking about dancing, or more specifically performing.
Unlike most choreographers. Booth constantly improvises. not only at the rehearsal stage, but during each performance as well. Against a basic movement pattern set out during an extensive rehearsal period, the dancers have to trust their own responses to any given situation. Thinking only a few steps ahead, the immediate future can be as hazy as a brain soaked in alcohol. ‘Those are very interesting moments,‘ enthuses Booth, when creative potential takes up the reins. Unmoved by fear of drying up he insists that the performance always comes together. ‘I mean this is what I do. The research. the rehearsal. the training, is about making things work and we‘ve put enough time into that.‘
Demanding more from his dancers than most choreographers, Booth has to be careful in his
Laurleaooth and Russell Maliphant
choice ofdancing partner. For Spatial Decay II to be performed for New Moves, Booth dances in duo with Russell Maliphant, last seen in Glasgow dancing with the immensely popular company, DV8. Not only is Maliphant technically and creatively suitable, but he has just come back from Brazil where he was studying the African martial art capoeira. The discipline has long been a source of inspiration for Booth, who studied capoeira in New York a few years ago.
‘Capoeira is an extremely creative improvisational form,’ Booth explains. ‘lts got some ofthe most incredible movement thinking of any artistic form I know.‘ Dating back to the slave trade era, the form was developed at a time when other martial arts were banned. Booth sees capoeira as one of a number of resources which may manifest itselfin improvisation. ‘It‘s, ifyou like, a basic technique. The only other place you‘d see the same sensibility behind certain movements in my performances is in capoeira.’
Booth‘s pieces are rarely narrative. It would be fair to compare his work to sculpture in progress.
as he is interested in the definition ofspace. ln
Spatial Decay 11, space becomes a kind of protagonist. ‘Space itself is a source of material,‘ Booth explains, ‘and through the lighting it is rendered textural. The piece is quite sculptural. It is about looking at the mass and volume of space and the way in which movement defines and activates certain aspects of any given space. All of this sounds very dry. Actually it is a very exciting process, to produce performances with the basic essentials ofspace, time and movement.‘
Booth applies similar vocabulary to Hans Peter Kuhn who has written the music for Spatial Decay II. ‘He doesn't work with music as such.‘ he explains. ‘It sounds a bit pretentious, but he is more of a sound artist. He’s more of a sculptor who works with sound.’ Both artists share an interest in the notion of space and time and the directionality of sound.
Coming to dance quite late. Booth entered Dartington School of Arts at the age of 21. Initially he was interested in the potential of the human body to make its own statement, which led him to theatre, particularly physical theatre. ‘People then started to say that what I was doing was dance, so I became a dancer. 1 went in through the back door. It wasn’t something I meant to do.‘
From such humble beginnings he has recently been asked to choreograph for the Ballet Rambert. The project will be different from anything he has yet worked on. Working with a group ofeight or ten dancers, Booth will be directing rather than dancing. ‘I will make a piece in which the dancers have a major creative input. The material itselfwill be set, but how they use it will be left undetermined.‘ Recently the Rambert have worked with a number of distinguished choreographers. The list includes Trisha Brown, Lucinda Childs and Merce Cunningham. Laurie Booth is likely to be added as one of the few major voices in contemporary, British choreography. (Jo Roe)
Laurie Booth will be appearing at the New Athenaeum, RSA MD, Glasgow 15-16 Mar.
For its third show, London's Kahoon Kahoon which specialises in physical comedy, has gone back to the Greek myth of Jason and Medea. The story of a woman who is so disenfranchised that she kills her two children might not sound like the stuff of laugh-a-mlnute drama, but Kahoon Kahoon treats the material sufficiently freely to create a black satire about our own attitudes to myths.
Kahoon Kahoon in Not Exactly Calm
‘There are quite a lot of parallels,‘ says company member Karen McLachlan. ‘how we create myths ourselves, how we all need mythological characters and how easily those characters are broken down. We were attracted to the story,
because of the way the media builds up myths and controls them for the public .' Taking key elements in the Jason/Medea story, Kahoon Kahoon takes its characters through a modern media machine including a bizarre . chat-show in which Jason and his host do battle for air space with the canned laughter. Meanwhile the citizens of Corinth, not yet absorbed by the power : of the myth, work out stand-up comedy routines about the couple's heroic exploits. The humour is based on genre parody and on the pronounced, stylised gesture that develops from this kind of
While McLachlan wanted to treat the Medea story differently from those like Franca Rame who either excused or
explained the murder of the children, she is explicit in her leminist interpretation of the events. ‘Women are constantly controlled,’ she argues. ‘When a woman does something wrong, it is horrific, whereas a man doing the same thing can be viewed as heroic. Very often women are not in a political context, so they are only judged by certain rules. Medea was incredibly powerful in her own right and she had all that taken away from her. All that she had left was that she was a mother to two children and then she destroys that role as well.’ (Mark . Fisher)
Not Exactly Calm is at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh. Wed 13—Sun 17 Mar.
The List-8’— 21 March i991 41