Choreographer Jonathan Burrows and composer Matteo Fargion have revived two thirty-minute pieces for an intimate double bill in the Lilian Baylis studio: Rewriting (2019) and Science Fiction (2021). Both pieces are staged under the same school PE hall lights, both featuring only Burrows and Fargion dressed in casual wear.

Rewriting sees Burrows deliver a monologue about an “abandoned” work he fully memorised all the movements for, shuffling cards around in a stilted and inscrutable manner. Burrows’ monologue highlights to the audience how if we describe the show, it appears meaningless, and yet, on an intuitive level, we understand the meaning of the piece. All the while, Fargion oom-pahs chintzy organ music on a battery-powered, table-top synthesiser. What could easily be self-indulgent comes across as engrossing, funny, and genuinely thought-provoking.

Science Fiction is a wordless back-and-forth between Burrows and Fargion, each clumsily tapping out a couple of phrases from the Gregorian chant Dies Irae on their nineties synthesisers over and over again, occasionally adding percussion. The repetitions become excruciatingly boring, giving us moments of hysteria from frustration. The idea to critique science fiction (or the rise of technology) for being doomsaying and formulaic is fair game, but this piece is more or less unwatchable.

It is, all the same, exciting to watch two pieces that are both, in their own way, innovative and provocative, pushing the boundaries of what we code “dance”.

Playing 5 – 6 May 2022 in the Sadler’s Wells Lilian Baylis Studio.

The Prickle - About transp