Review: Below My Feet

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This small, fascinating and in-depth show – which ran at the National Arts Festival earlier in 2013 – is an exploration of complex, searing emotions.  Such a vast amount of personal unprocessed emotion would be hard to put into words but makes for great dance.  As such, Below My Feet isbreathtaking.

The dance styles employed include contemporary, modern jazz, lyrical hip hop and tap. The choreography by Ciara Baldwin, Megan Black and Kerry Domoney is an interesting fusion of well thought out styles. Because of the small stage area in the intimate Kalk Bay Theatre, a dance show for a cast of six could be rather tricky. These three choreographers have shown their worth in rising to the challenge of providing great choreography for this tight space.

The show poses the question: How much do you know about the person next to you? It explores the thoughts and emotions of some of the dancers themselves, Meagan Miller, Kayla Gatley-Dewing, Ami-Rose Barber, Amelia Baldwin, Ciara Baldwin and Luke Brown, each of whom brings a distinct and fascinating presence to the stage. The dancers’ struggles are projected to the audience in stories that underline the concept that you can never really know what hardships someone else is facing.

Projected images and video clips accompany music which has been specifically chosen to provide a bewitching and charming translation from music to dance. Amy-Rose Barber even adds her classical voice at various points, with ‘Ave Maria’ and as one half of the ‘Hallelujah’ duet with dancer and choreographer Ciara Baldwin. Robin Skead and cinematographer Jack Shaper have created the majority of the media, using the dancers themselves as their protagonists, and capturing vivid clips of the outdoors to bring a feeling of space and light.  By editing the clips to tie in with the music used, the atmosphere of the show is built ever higher.

With one of the dancers, Ciara Baldwin, having broken her foot two weeks prior to the show, much of the choreography had to be altered at short notice. Despite this, Baldwin performs what is possibly one of the most powerful pieces of the show while sitting cross-legged, using only her upper body, powerful yet paradoxically vulnerable, proving her mettle not just as a dancer but as a performer.

A duet between the Amelia Baldwin and Luke Brown is a beautifully crafted contemporary piece to Adele’s ‘Don’t You Remember’ in which every inch of the small stage is well used. The dance to ‘Wear Sunscreen’ by Mary Schmich is another highlight – a charming interpretation of this popular and meaningful speech, told by the dancers in a lyrical hip hop form that is even, in some parts, enormously humorous.

Below My Feet tells a story of life and the secret battles people hide within themselves. The stage is one place where everything can spill out and the dancers wear their hearts on their sleeves, recklessly abandoning the need to hold back.

Lauren Vogt

Below My Feet took place at the Kalk Bay Theatre and runs until 15 September 2013.

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