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Jasmin Vardimon Company — PARK

Sadler’s Wells, London

There was little about Park that I liked. Set in a park, its characters include a bag wielding granny type, a street-smart couple, a bureaucrat, a Chinese investor and a siren, who also plays the part of the mermaid statue poised above a fountain who comes to life. If the setting is supposed to be a socio-political critique of class or isolation then it says nothing new. The choreography is uninspiring, although I’ve been told and am sure it’s true, that the individual dancers are themselves remarkable. Both the idea and its execution then, are greatly disappointing.

Added to this, is the kind of humour- and I use the term hesitantly-that  ‘Park’ employs. It seems to me to mock rather than to be funny in itself, and I find that form of humour rather base. For example, in one scene, a dancer tap-dances to Gene Kelly’s number , ‘Singin’ in the Rain’.  The Park sequence mocks the Kelly sequence without bettering it. The original had integrity; this does not. Another example of Park’s mocking tone is its choice of music; songs which include The Beatles’ Nothing’s Going to Change my World’  and Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s ‘The Power of Love’. Within the context in which these and other songs are played, they appear cheesy; they win though, cheap laughs.

The choreography, for the most part, does not allow the dancers’ skills to shine. But it is also problematic on another count. And this is with regards the characters’ believability. I simply didn’t find the street-smart characters threatening or the siren sexual, despite all her posing and rubbing up and down a lamppost. The dance sequences in the second half are distinctly better; two towards the end particularly stand out. But I think that by this point I was too tired from trying to engage with this piece to give them the full attention they deserved.

I found Park to be really hard going.  I am, I believe, however, in a minority. The audience seemed to love it.

  • Dance Theatre
  • Choreography: Jasmin Vardimon
  • Sadler’s Wells, London
  • 10 & 11 Nov 2014
  • Review by Hafiza Butt
  • 13 November 2014

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