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Open for Everything review at Royal Court, London – ‘exuberant and layered’

Scene from Open for Everything at Royal Court, London. Photo: Thomas Aurin
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A car drives onto the Royal Court stage. It’s covered with Louis Vuitton logos and stuffed with people, in the back seat, in the boot. Just like the car, Open For Everything – Constanza Macras’ new dance piece, made with her Berlin-based company, Dorky Park – fills the stage. It’s a huge thing; employing a cast of 19 performers along with a five-man band, led by Marek Balong, it’s an attempt to explore both the romanticism and demonisation of the Roma, the perception of them as nomads, fire-starters, trouble-makers, beggars, free spirits, fortune-tellers, poets.

A cast of amateur performers tell their own stories and explain their own reasons for wanting to be part of the project. In this way the production echoes Lola Arias’ extraordinary Falklands war piece, Minefield, also part of LIFT. Their stories are interspersed with energetic and at times relentless dance sequences in which clothes are thrown on and thrown off with abandon and the performers lug mattresses around the stage. History is stitched into the piece. One of the performers adopts the guise of Leni Riefenstahl using Roma ‘extras’ from Nazi camps to bring some ‘Spanish’ colour to her film Tiefland. There are moments of exquisite, if confusing, kitsch: I’m still not sure why the piece included a nun riding on a zebra but am very glad it did.

Open for Everything embraces complexity, contradiction and mess. Dances morph into fights and back into dances. Hip hop sits next to traditional movements. Throughout, the show’s exuberance is married with a subtler exploration of linguistic and cultural diversity within the wider Roma community. It’s a party, but it’s also unavoidably political.

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An exuberant and layered exploration of Roma culture and identity