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Danse de Nuit review at Here East, London – ‘Forceful yet chaotic’

Scene from Boris Charmatz's Danse de Nuit. Photo: Boris Brussey
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As night falls, a group of people gather under the concrete roof of a site near an east London car park. Come wind or rain, this work will take place but, on this particularly dismal May evening, Boris Charmatz’s Danse de Nuit had been relocated from the rooftop where it was originally intended to be performed.

If anything, the low ceiling of this new space adds to the oppressive atmosphere of the work. Made after the Paris terrorist attacks of 2015, there’s a sense of frustration and pent-up emotion that, in the actions and words of the dancers, comes bursting forth.

Scattered among the audience, each dancer launches into their own monologue, a chaotic jumble of words accompanied by the rapid, thrashing movements of their bodies. Eventually their words join together but the same sense of chaos and urgency remains.

The performance shifts restlessly, the dancers weaving among the audience, lit by the bright fluorescent lights on people’s backpacks. One moment you lose sight of the action, the next a performer pushes past you.

The dancers are almost constantly talking and moving, but from the mass of words it’s hard to discern one clear line of thought. The sense of anger and anguish, however, is clear. The attacks of 2015 are coolly mentioned; the dancers mimic machine guns.

It’s a manic, chaotic reaction to the world we find ourselves living in, indecipherable but also unashamed – and in that lies its strength.

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Upfront and forceful, if chaotic, site-specific dance piece