Video director, artist and choreographer Holly Blakey opens up a queer, sexual Garden of Eden in her latest movement piece Some Greater Class at the Southbank Centre. Known for her work with the likes of Florence and the Machine and Jungle, Blakey offers us an explorative critique into the the dynamics of contemporary pop culture.
8 androgynous dancers begin onstage behind a curtain, pacing in controlled measures across the stage. This anticipation for something to be uncovered is a running dialogue through the piece. The company, clad in various shades of red, create nuanced images, gestures and motions with a charming fluidity.
Physical theatre, contemporary dance and even voguing make the content of this piece rich and exciting. Brash movements paint out scenes of blood-red passion and sexual frustration in equal measure. Blakey takes the hyper-sexualised tropes of music videos and subverts them, queering them in such a way that the stage is a flowing mix of bodies, flesh and spirit.
Gwilym Gold and Darkstar, close collaborators with Blakey provide musical accompaniment to the performance. Their music is dark and mysterious, melodic notes tiptoe in and out against a vibrant falsetto vocal.
Floorwork plays a prominent role in this hour long performance, though the limitations of The Clore Ballroom space at the Southbank make for difficult viewing. The audience need to be on a much higher rake to see the intricate work that is being performed.
It is clear that this piece has taken guts and physical resilience to create. One such example would be the highlight on performer Ted Rodgers, who spirals on stage beating his bare chest in a rhythmic, guttural manner. These movements feel political, engaging with ideas around body politics and internalised shame, something felt by many LGBTQ people.
Blakey touches upon different emotions beautifully throughout. Humour, exhaustion, desire and lust mix to form a concoction of the human condition. The performers leave the stage with the audience knowing that the sweat is real, the passion is real and the pain is real too. 4/5
Review written by Niall Hunt.
Some Greater Class hasn’t it’s last performance tonight at the Southbank Centre. For Moreno information on the production, visit here…