Review: If You Leave

If You Leave 

201 Dance Company

Choreographer: Andrea Walker, Producer: Patrick Collier

Can you stay true to yourself, when everything suggests you change?

201’s raw, contemporary hip-hop movement returns in If You Leave: a story of two people’s broken encounter.

I didn’t know what to expect on making my way to Camberwell’s gorgeous Blue Elephant Theatre to see “If You Leave”. I’ve not had much experience of contemporary dance/ hip hop based theatre and I have to confess I’m often sceptical about my ability to appreciate a story told without words. If you have the chance to see this piece, but share my apprehension, I implore you to go anyway. It is divine. A superb piece of performance telling a moving and relatable story.

The passion and dedication of the dancers is unmistakable, there is a real feeling of joy in their performance that is communicated to the audience. The diversity of the dancers’ backgrounds works beautifully in that it gives each character their own distinctive “voice”.

The story is relatively simple and ideally suited to this medium. The push and pull of the dance perfectly illustrates the ebb and flow of a relationship. The natural shifts between coming together and moving apart, in unison and out of sync, the interplay of control and submission, all of this is communicated incredibly eloquently. It reaches beyond language to a place of visceral intuition and instinct.

Humans seem to have an in-built drive to dance that is inextricably bound to our romantic and sexual relationships, utilising dance both for courtship and sublimation of sexual desire. Here, dance is the perfect way to explore themes of possession, obsession, lust and love. The dancers capture both the elation and pain of love and loss. The lighting and sound design create a familiar backdrop of a vibrant, heady, sometimes drug infused, urban landscape.

The show is currently in development but will be showing at both the Brighton and Edinburgh fringe festivals. If you can get along to see it I thoroughly recommend you do. I challenge you not to be captivated by a piece that is at once raw, skillful and intoxicating.

4* – Visit for info on future performances.

©Alexandra Birchfield 2015 (@AMBirchfield)

Alexandra is a New Zealand born actor and writer who has been living in the UK for 4 years. She spent the first three years in Glasgow studying at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and is now living in London with two lovely flatmates and one very pampered cat.

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