Dance Umbrella, London’s annual international dance festival, launches its 41st year in style with Gisèle Vienne’s Crowd.
Painstakingly choreographed, yet effortlessly executed by Vienne’s company of dancers, Crowd is bold, visually arresting dance designed with cinematic flair. Set to a techno soundtrack and driven by a persistent pulsating bass, the dancers move in slow motion through the debris of an all-night rave.
Over the next 90 minutes, Crowd retains that cinematic physicality and pushes it to the edge. Sped up, paused, or slowed down, the action slips by frame by frame; scenes of lust, promiscuity, violence and friendship are wrapped up in the same charged and heady atmosphere.
Vienne’s minute attention to detail ensures this surreal and stretched out snapshot of one long crazy night is perpetually captivating.
The interplay between stillness and chaos, tension and explosion is expertly calculated. One scene blends into the next, accentuated by brief but striking moments of clarity in which the focus shifts to a single performer. Caught for an instant on the outskirts of the crowd, they offer the audience a glimpse into a more intimate moment in a way that feels starkly human and honest.
A hedonistic snapshot of humanity, Crowd captures that point in the night where everything’s gone a little too far – but it still might all be okay if you just hold on to those around you and keep on dancing.