What Is Written/Spoken Movement: Hybridity at Work!

What Is Written’s The Art of Conflict . Photo Si Adrians-Tangle Photography

A wonderful treat for lovers of dance took place on Friday 8th February 2019 at Nottingham Lakeside Arts. Not only were spectators fortunate enough to witness one dance work but they were treated to two! Most definitely a delight!

The opening piece The Art of Conflict by What is Written Dance Company aimed to examine whether civilisations can in fact prosper on and through conflict.

The dance construction took the spectator on a journey that involved observing five individuals who epitomised the human race.

Set amongst the backdrop of the urban metropolis and infected by capitalism, materialism, greed, status and technology the spectator began to inspect how this group of individuals on stage yearned to break free from society’s expectations of conformity.

What Is Written’s The Art of Conflict . Photo Si Adrians-Tangle Photography
What Is Written’s The Art of Conflict. Photo Si Adrians-Tangle Photography

These above mentioned messages of the dance construction were communicated through a series of montages. These scenarios were short, sharp, fast paced and explosive, and through them the artists exhibited that which had been lost—the inner self, love, peace and happiness. This was displayed through the hybrid vernacular of contemporary, hip-hop based movement styles and physical theatre.

The lighting design and innovative sound-scape that comprised of post-apocalyptic beats also added to the rich, contemporary and diverse movement systems that What is Written Dance Company are renowned for.

The second half of the evening exhibited Spoken Movement’s Obibini; a term that means ‘the black person’ in the dialect of the Akan language. This is a piece that questioned whether slavery has been wiped out of society or whether it has evolved, that is does the past shape the present, and if so, how?

The construction was then a journey of self-reflection for founder and artistic director Kwame Asafo-Adjei and in turn the performance allowed the observed to also undergo a process of self-reflection too – creating an open dialogue concerning the need for change!

Obibini. Photo Credit KBD
Spoken Movement – Obibini. Photo Credit KBD

In order to position the construction into the twenty-first century, Spoken Movement made use of street dance, hip-hop, contemporary dance and vocal sounds which illustrated the company’s hybrid movement-based rhetoric. It was also this alteration from the dance conventions of fixity that demonstrated how the company believe in pushing boundaries.

At times Obibini was so fast paced with its display of energetic movement that the spectator had no choice but to become completely absorbed in the language and questions that the company posed.

Through direct and almost ‘in your face’ proclamations of the here and now, The Art of Conflict and Obibini both reminded the spectator of how dance vernaculars can still exhibit critical messages for and about the human race.

Reviewed on 8th of February at Nottingham Lakeside Art