Northcott Theatre, Exeter: A meeting of Dance, Painting, Clay and Music – with Sandy Brown, Sue Way and Christoffer de Graal.
From the darkened auditorium where I sit, I see a white canvas backdrop, and more of this material spread on the stage floor. Christoffer de Graal, the musician, enters and stands quietly to the side with his instruments and electronic equipment. We wait in silence. The dancer/ painters appear – white clad and smeared all over in what looks like white clay.
The sound of a loud gong makes the hairs on my arms stand on end. My abdomen begins to vibrate as the music begins: overtone singing sliding into didgeridoo. We all know by now what sort of dance we have entered.
The dancers make slow, ritualistic movements – Sandy Brown picks up a bucket of mud and a large brush, and paints two large concentric circles on the floor.
The multi-layered music draws us further into the dance, into a dreamlike shamanic world –the musician seeming to play all at the same time, without effort, the didgeridoo, electronic instruments and viola, whilst singing the vibrations of the earth.
The dancers are circling, interacting and responding to each other – opening and closing, ebbing and flowing. Music and dance become one – hypnotic repetition, the rhythmic in and out breath of life.
Now they are painting with earth pigments on the backdrop and each other. I can smell the mud, or maybe that is just my imagination – no matter. The buckets are labelled Appledore Mud, Frensham Red, Meeth White – local clays, some of which I know well from walking, crawling or falling. The dancers are touching, smearing and exploring like babies, sensuously hand-painting each others bodies.
The music is staccato now. The dancers pick up squeezy bottles and squirt paint everywhere. They exchange mischievous looks as red, yellow paint is daubed on each others faces – then on canvas backdrop.
The musician is playing the viola and controlling the electronic equipment with his bare feet