Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Preview of TOST (Dylan Quinn Dance Theatre in The MAC on Saturday 19) #imaginebelfast

Last year I made my first foray into the world of dance by interviewing Dylan Quinn about and then attending and reviewing his new work The 5th Province. (Slugger O’Toole had never had a post about dance before!)

Dylan is back in the MAC this Saturday evening with Tost, the second in a loose trilogy of works. The show’s title has its roots in the Irish for ‘silent’ and the two person performance intends to explore “the communication in between, which is not spoken”.

On this island there was and continues to be much silence as people have chosen to overlook and not report abusive and murderous acts. There is silence too as instances of racism, homophobia, racism, xenophobia and sexism are condoned and go unchallenged, perhaps accepted as ‘normal’.

However, silence is international. Dancer and director Dylan Quinn says:
“In our contemporary world millions are being forced to risk their lives in the search for security. As geographical borders are being crossed so too are entrenched identities being questioned.

“The language of inclusion and exclusion feeds the daily diatribe of the other, where what is heard is not necessarily what is said. If the language that gives us a set of ‘signs’ and ‘rules’ becomes vulnerable or is unknown, how do we communicate and where does the true meaning of what we are communicating reside?
Dylan recalls family gatherings with awkward static hugs that are “full of energy but not at all comfortable” as people meet who are not physically comfortable with one another. At other times there can be an awkwardness at not knowing what to say. He calls this “charged silence”. Across the different scenes of the show, the performers will struggle to communicate with each other. Other noise may even fill the silent gap between them.

Devised by Jenny Ecke and Dylan Quinn, Tost is complemented by Andy Garbi’s music and Paddy McCann’s sharp set design that threatens silence over the heads of the performers.

If you’ve never been to a dance show, don’t worry! It will feel unfamiliar and foreign. But like a snatch of a poem or a line of dialogue from a film, some aspect will pierce the guard you’ll have raised and stay with you as you leave the venue.

Dylan says that dance “gives you a different perception and exploration of some of the things that are current and relevant now”.
“It’s for people who are interested in questioning those things, investigating and experiencing what might just make you look at the world differently or wonder how other people look at it.

“The Imagine Festival is a perfect festival for us to be involved. Owen Jones is talking. [Sold Out] People who are interested in the type of things he is saying could come to this, even if not dance viewers at all, and recognise that there’s investigation going on here. It’s not a show about how high the dancers legs go, but instead getting people to think about social and political and cultural issues of now.

“We continue to prioritise certain ways of learning and exploring things, certain ways of accepting that this is the right way to do things. And as the world is changing that is starting to fragment and there are other ways of interacting with and questioning the world. Dance is not going to answer all the questions but it might be one other way of trying to investigate the subject matter. Just like abstract poetry and writing it doesn’t answer the questions but it might just raise some more questions.”

Tost premieres in The MAC this Saturday 19 March at 8pm (£15), and will also be performed on Wednesday 23 March in the Strule Arts Centre in Omagh (£7). After Tost, Dylan and Jenny head off to perform other previous works at international festivals in Paris and Dublin.

Updated - review of the show.

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