Sunny – Abbey Theatre – Dublin Dance Festival

Sunny – Abbey Theatre – Dublin Dance Festival – Review by Frank L.
Dates – Mon 22 & Tues 23 May 2017

Dublin Dance Festival continues until May 28th

Sunny choreographed by Emanuel Gat with music by Awir Leon

As the audience enters the auditorium the stage is bare apart from a keyboard. A figure enters unobtrusively on the left hand side. It is definitely human, wearing a mask, but is reminiscent of a wren boy that would make its traditional appearance on St Stephen’s Day. However its apparel is mostly white, made predominantly of fun furs. On its head, a plant in a wicker-like basket is perched. It appears to be insecure. After a while, the figure with slow measured steps moves across the stage. He becomes definitively male. Each of his toes are relevant to his slow advance; it is a mannered progression. He becomes more animated and like a Wren boy, the tinkle of bells can be heard in his movement. Then on the right hand side of the stage the remaining nine dancers appear, huddled like school children, along with Awir Leon. They all proceed towards the keyboard of which Leon takes possession.

“Sunny” by Marvin Gaye rings out throughout the auditorium.  The Wren boy removes quietly his attire and merges with the rest of the cast of two men and seven women. They then proceed to move, in a multitude of configurations, in a series of sequences to the ever changing sounds being created. These sounds appear to be spontaneous coming from Leon’s playing but the synchronization of the performers with the music make you realise this cannot be. It is a triumph of organised spontaneity. All the dancers are loosely attired apart from a sequence when they are more formally dressed in eclectic evening wear, for example one of them wears a smoking jacket but without any trousers. They make an elegant and sophisticated looking gathering… a group of people worth belonging to. At another time, the dancers all left the stage while Leon proceeded to the front of the stage, lay down and sang. The diversity of it all is challenging.

The combination of the variety of the dance sequences, the dancers’ ability to interpret the “spontaneous” sound and the sheer physicality of the movements of the dancers kept the audience riveted. Messrs Gat and Leon and the dancers, as if they were one entity, brought the audience to a place not previously known.

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