Dance Review: Yellow Towel

Image 1Richard Lutz takes in an unsettling performance that defies description. And stays with you

Yellow Towel/Patrick Centre,Birmingham

If there is a production that disturbs you and makes you think and talk about it the next day, there must be worth in its content. It may not be pleasant or fun. But it affects you.

This is what Yellow Towel does It is one woman’s view on what happens if personal memories and perceptions are thrown up in the air then fall in scattered pieces like a broken mirror.

So, there is no beautiful dance performance, no storyline, no elegance. But there is powerful movement, shards of not so much an internal monologue as a jagged scream. It is strong stuff.

If anything, the 75 minute uninterrupted piece is a twisted take on a disruptive confused mind inside what we would term currently as  a ‘challenged’ body, telling bits of  a biography with the things around her: a glass of milk, a yellow trumpet badly played, slivers of disconnected phrases from what could have been teachers or parents. All told with  jerky twisted movements that seem disparate and random but that could only be performed by a  trained modern dancer. Is this what it must be like inside the mind of a mentally ill person? Is this a nightmare told on stage when you cannot put things straight but in fragments or memories?

Dana Michel, a black Canadian, uses snippets of noise, the human voice, gospel, R’n’B and even Tubular Bells to push her body on.The spits and spats of language seem to move between Jamaican patois and the deep south.

Hats off to both Dancexchange and the city’s Fierce Festival for offering this unsettling piece. Creative work – whether it is music, a painting, dance or even someone humming on a bus – must eventually push an audience. Otherwise, it is commonplace, trite and, well, boring. Dana Michel did this. It isn’t pleasant. It is disturbing. And it stays with you. The Dancexchange series continues throughout the month.