Rich in allegory, drama and lashings of dark humour, Animatorium is a contemporary dance fairy-tale for the modern age. Performed by five dancers, the 15-minute work revolves around the mysterious character of the Master and the four beings he creates and brings to life in his laboratory. What starts as a one-way relationship of command, however, soon metamorphoses into something quite different as the Master’s attempts to control and manipulate his creations incites resentment, unrest and finally full-scale rebellion.
First performed outdoors at Wales’ Green Man Festival in August 2016, Animatorium was conceived to be presented in virtually any 8m x 8m space. The simplicity of the staging means that the audience’s attention is fully focused on the dancers for the duration of the performance, amplifying the impact of each movement and drawing attention to subtle choreographical details that might otherwise go unnoticed.
Drawing on themes of manipulation, control and disorder, Animatorium
is a piece that reflects both the state of the world today and universal notions of what it means to be free. But while the work lends itself to political, social or even religious readings, it ultimately retains the feel of a classic fable that can be enjoyed by viewers of all ages and beliefs, and which demonstrates that contemporary dance can be accessible, intimate and timeless.
ANIMATORIUM INSIDER: 5 THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR
1.) Rather than elaborate costumes, the performers are dressed in simple tweed suits. This is because NDCWales artistic director Caroline Finn wanted to break the separation between dancers and audience, giving the impression that they are, in some ways, one and the same.
2.) To accompany the piece, Finn uses three different and distinct pieces of music, offering auditory clues to the changing nature of the relationship between the Master and his pawns.
3.) The physical statures and builds of the dancers are intentionally contrasting, imbuing the choreography with a rich diversity. The characters are also purposely androgynous, allowing the audience to project their own interpretations onto them.
4.) Repetition is a key feature of the choreography. Notice how certain movements recur throughout the work, and how the context alters the meaning as the narrative progresses.
5.) The body language of the five dancers – particularly the interplay between the Master and his four creations – evolves drastically over the course of the performance, from the childlike obedience of the puppets when they are first brought to life to the savage uprising when they finally turn on the Master.
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