Review: Kontakthof, Barbican

Just a short review as it was a last minute cheap deal through Facebook and I’m never too sure what I’m saying when it comes to dance.

Kontakthof is a dance piece by Pina Bausch (now sadly passed away) for a large group of dancers which is set in a dancehall and purports to explore male/female relations and the pursuit of desire. It is performed by Tanztheater Wuppertal, the company for whom it was written, but there’s a twist in its presentation here at the Barbican: there’s two casts, one made up of over-65s and one made up of teenagers so you can have two very differing experiences here: I saw the teenage cast.

It wasn’t as much of a dance show as I was expecting, the moves were fairly limited but it seemed to be much more focused on the interactions between the performers and indeed their characters. There’s a great scene where they all line up on their chairs and pass a microphone along so we get snippets from their lives, the dates they’re on, the relationships they’re in and combined with the synchronised movements of the dating games that they play for the rest of show, it really gave you a sense of them as people rather than performers which surprised me, but in a good way.

It was musically quite entertaining, with 1930s songs populating the soundtrack and fitfully visually very arresting. There was a nice deal of humour in there to keep one engaged, but at three hours, it did feel a little overlong to me: there’s a lot of repetition of moves and with a rather stately pace, it began to drag a little for me by the end.

Still an interesting experience which broadened my horizons, and thanks to the Barbican for the last minute deal: if you’re on Facebook or Twitter, I’d recommend friending them as great deals pop up quite often.

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