“Confronting and Cryptic” – A Nightdance Review

By Mihika Hegde | @mihika_h

Nightdance was definitely a far cry from what I’m used to. It was confronting and cryptic, and there were many times when I wasn’t sure I knew what was playing out in front of me. Don’t let that put you off, though – the show champions the abstract. Although it’s not for everyone, give it a chance and you might be surprised about how much you take away from the performance.

Nightdance follows a relatively loose narrative so there’s time to think and consider what’s being performed. Don’t confuse this with disengagement, though – it’s a show with continuous movement. There’s always something happening, something changing, and forming.

There were a bunch of times where my mind wandered because of this. It’s the type of performance that’s difficult not to project your own experiences on to, but I think it’s better because of that wandering. The pulsing music and club-lighting make the show feel immersive, even though there’s a distinct separation between viewers and the stage.

As an audience, we don’t engage directly with the dancers. However, there are multiple moments where we see ourselves in them (and the situations they find themselves in). The performance draws pretty substantially on the influences of Berlin’s nightclub scene and Weimar Era Cabaret, but you don’t need to be a seasoned traveller or a history buff to connect with the content.

The technicality of Nightdance was a highlight for me, and one that made the performance stand out. Choreographer and director Melanie Lane has a distinct and considered style that makes for engaging viewing. Nightdance includes intermittent pauses and slows the narrative to give both the audience and the performers time to absorb everything that’s around them. This is balanced with high intensity, fast paced scenes, so that it can delve into both the external and visceral parts of the clubbing scene.

If the conceptual parts of Nightdance aren’t your thing, that’s not all the show has to offer. It’s incredibly personal and raw. Performers Lilian Steiner, Gregory Lorenzutti, and Melanie Lane don’t hold back, so you get the feeling that everyone takes away something different from the show.

Overall, Nightdance wasn’t something I’d usually check out – but I’m glad I did. (Am I a techno-burlesque-pop junkie now?)

I can’t say I’m converted, but I’m definitely interested to see what Lane comes up with next.

Image credit: Theatrepress

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