Scotland’s premiere international dance festival New Moves Across Europe’s gearing up to hit Glasgow with a radical new programme for 1995. Ellie Carr talks to ex-DV8 man Nigel Charnock about his latest performance Hell Bent, and below she takes an overview of what New Moves 95 has in store.
‘New Moves allows people to take risks.’ says Nigel Chamock. He should know. Before DV8 Physical Theatre made its mark in the dance world. Dead Dreams ofMonoc/zrmne Men was a risk. and Nikki Milican took it. Chamock is forever grateful to New Moves for taking on the unknown quantity of himself. Lloyd Newson and the young DV8 so full of anger. passion and a kamikaze desire to commune with brick walls at high speeds. ‘lt was an incredible risk for them to take. putting money into Dead Dreams,’ says Chamock. DV8 went on to reach dizzy dance heights (literally) and Chamock has since carved out himself a successful career as solo performer. and director of the aptly named Volcano Theatre, but he still believes it’s at festivals like this. where the promoters as well as the performers are willing to take chances. that new dance gets the vital oxygen it needs to survive. ‘lt’s the only way that young companies get started.‘ he asserts. ‘l owe a lot to Nikki Milican and New Moves.‘
Several years down the road from DV8. Charnock‘s risk-taking days are by no means over. He now has a stack of success stories on which to rest his laurels. but somehow every new show that appears manages to look like it could end in tears. with huge. unwieldy topics that collide head on in in-yer-face blasts of physical theatre. Then. prior to last year’s visit to the Edinburgh Fringe with Volcano. Chamock announced he was bored with chucking himselfat
Hell Bent: ‘In a wanky sort of way it’s about the nature of performing.’
walls. This was kind of worrying — less action and more words. Not that there‘s anything wrong with words but when action is what you and your colleagues are famed for. ditching it in favour of text. especially when that text is ibscn. seems a little. well. risky. it was a risk that paid off. The result of this sudden U-turn was a fresh, fast moving piece of theatre where speech got the same heady dynamics that Chamock used to invest in propelling bodies across space.
Now we have Hell Bent. ‘Nigel Chamock is never satisfied. After the cynical and obscene expose of love and sex in Original Sin he now shamelessly delves deep into his own life as a masochistic performer to lay bare the very private life of soulless misfit and anti-social pervert.’ At least that's what the folks in marketing say. Charnock is a little more low-key about the whole affair. ‘lt‘s about somebody who's trying to do a show. but he can‘t do it because his private life is fucked up. it‘s a sort ofdisaster of a show really. In a wanky sort of way it's about the nature of performing. It's about why people perform and how they get through it. it‘s about a performer who can‘t actually do it anymore.‘
Fine if you can pull it off. Terrible if you can't —- and here lies the latest gamble. How do you prevent a disaster of a show from being — a disaster of a show?
‘I don’t take myself too seriously.‘ Chamock explains. ‘l‘m not precious about what i do. and I think that allows the audience in. Also. the show swaps all the time. between singing. dancing and talking. and I think that keeps people engaged.‘ The buzz from down south is that Hell Ben! is stirring up a hotbed of intrigue on its way to New Moves. not least because Chamock is reported to have gone out and kissed members of his audience during the show. Lots of intrigue. a few stunned silences and even a spot of good old fashioned outrage. The good folks of Swindon were demanding the posters for Hell Bent be taken down before they'd even seen the show. The offending image. Charnock's face swathed in tight fitting clear plastic. is certainly pretty disturbing. but Chamock never anticipated it might elicit such a stiff response. ‘They thought it would make children put plastic bags over their heads.’ he says. ‘But really it's the sexual thing. l‘m shocked by their shock. i thought audiences had seen everything now.’ Everything it seems. apart from grown men encased in plastic bags .
Much of Hell Bent. the third and last in a trilogy of solos, is autobiographical and carries a trail of obsessions. namely love. sex. violence and God that run through all Charnock’s work. This latest ﬁxation. with the private lives of performers. first came to light in How To Live where lbsen/Charnock texts were deftly intercut with what appeared to be real scenes of offstage squabbling and sexual tensions between the cast. ‘The How '12) Live thing.’ says Chamock. ‘just came from the fact that half the time when i'm sitting in the theatre. l‘m bored stiff. and I try to imagine what the actors private lives are like. what they're doing and who in the cast is knocking off who else. it‘s about making that human connection with the audience. accepting the fact that l’m on stage under these lights. and you‘re sitting in the darkness. which is a really weird situation that we accept anyway. ljust want to keep it all awake. i want to keep slapping the audience round the face. and keep slapping myself around the face. The worst thing 1 could do is to bore people. i prefer people to hate it and walk out than to sit there and think ‘this is kind of pleasant‘. or sit and think about something clse.‘
New Moves, Tl‘lllllit‘tl)’. Glasgow [—25 Mar; Hell Bent. Wet! l—T/nirs 2 Mm:
assua- Opening moves
With the official lfew Moves ’95 slogan Dance on the Wild Side already pasted up rock gig-style on billboards across the Central Belt, this year’s festival looks set to carry on its eight- year-long tradition of bringing explosive new dance from around the world to the heart of Glasgow with another lampacked programme of lntematlonal bright young things. Artistic director lfikki Milican is not known for her love of Scottish dance. She believes the real cutting edge of
new performance is to be found l elsewhere in Europe and beyond, and I this year she returns from her annual globe-trot clutching yet another annfui of red hot young companies from Spain, Holland, France, England and Canada. Among the newcomers to the festival: Montreal’s latest talent Daniele Besnoyers; fellow Canadian Helene Blackburn of Cas Public; Spain’s emerging company Lanonima Imperial, and UK soloist Ellen Schuylenburch (known for her work with Michael Clark and Laurie Booth) are a few familiar faces from previous years. liigel Chamock (UK), Vincente Saez (Spain) and Roger Sinha (Canada) are all returning to New Moves. Milican believes their presence is lust as important to the spirit of the festival as the first timers. ‘Obviously
"‘ 4' 1‘s. Beyond the flail: Ellen van Schuylenbach at lfew Moves
New Moves is about discovering the next international talent,’ she says, ‘but it’s also about nurturing relationships with people overtime.’
As to what the real highs and lows of flew Moves ’95 will be, only time will tell, but one thing is guaranteed to have dramatic effect on proceedings this year. Rather than having performances divided across a number of venues, lfew Moves will for the first time have a central focus, with all shows and events taking place in the newly refurbished Tramway. ‘It’s partly circumstance,’ Milican says. ‘But it’s also a move to take on heard what our audiences have said in the past. We want lfew Moves to make full potential of the new Tramway space.’ For details of law Moves events see Dance listings p. 58.
50 The List 24 Feb-9 Mar 1995