201 Dance Company
201 Dance Company seem to take the idea of the arts having a conscience very seriously; and it shows. Their latest smash hit production ‘Skin’ charts the experience of one child’s gender transition though a mixture of hip hop and contemporary dance styles, with an astounding original soundtrack. Ross Allchurch’s music provides a pulsating rhythm; the passionate heartbeat of someone kicking their way out of shame and the shadows, into truth, pride, and authenticity.
I confess I haven’t seen a lot of dance in my time, but I was intrigued to see this, and I was not disappointed. I was invited to see it by Patrick Collier, the very accomplished Associate Director/Producer with many other strings to his bow. My initial contact with him had been through my employer ‘Gendered Intelligence’, a community-interest-company that works to enhance understandings of gender diversity and improve trans people’s quality of life. We had been commissioned by 201 Dance Company (who had sourced funding) to deliver our ‘Trans Awareness Training’ to a number of theatres in the UK where the production of ‘Skin’ was showing. Thus the admirable ‘arts with a conscience’ credentials of the company we affirmed.
Andrea Walker’s choreography bore a kaleidoscopic, multi-influential dance that showed someone finding their way to a place of strength, power and control. The dancers moved with adept skill and verve, causing eyes to widen and jaws to drop as every inch of their bodies told such a profound life-story.
Along with Kit Redstone’s dramaturgy, the company put trans stories to the forefront: truthful yet conflicted; assertive yet peaceful; tidy but messy all at once. A realism that couldn’t escape, and probably reflected, every single audience member, no matter their identity. It is a mark of sincerity that they worked with trans performers to ensure an effective collaboration. Other companies could, and should, take note.
An engaging piece, it ran at just under an hour long. I was so suitably captivated, I was somewhat startled when it ended.
The Greenwich Theatre itself is an easy-to-find and friendly venue. The bar area is comfortable and sizeable with well-stocked and well-run bar (the grapefruit tonic deserves a special mention at this point). There was some live jazz the night I went with my friend (Actor and Writer Nieve Hearity). It was a real ‘shot in the arm’ of culture; dance, theatre and music bathing us in creativity…and a pink Gin. Marvellous.
There are some performances of ‘Skin’ still to come in the UK, and it’s well worth a visit if you can. For anyone who likes dance, for anyone who likes triumphant storytelling, for anyone who likes to see a trans person thrive; ’Skin’ is for you.
There are more dates around the country still to come: https://www.201dancecompany.com/skin
Find out more about Gendered Intelligence: http://genderedintelligence.co.uk
© Jezza Donovan 2018