Review: The Studio (Young People’s Theatre and Bouge de là)

At the Young People’s Theatre, I attended an invigorating dance performance named The Studio. The Studio is a show that is set in an artist’s studio and conveys visual art in an abstract manner.

There are certain aspects of this performance that are geared towards children but for the most part I feel this is an incredibly mature show. Although not for everyone, I would certainly recommend it to the creative individual, especially one who is intrigued by visual language.

I was never really a fan of dance but since writing for Mooney on Theatre I have been exposed to more and more dance performances, of which most have blown me away.
The Studio is no exception. The dancers have a great understanding of their bodies as well as the way they interact with one another. This performance comes together as a whole. Even though there is no linear narrative, from beginning to end I understand their expression of visual art.

The show begins with the dancers mimicking the paintings that are projected on the screen behind them. There are slow movements and eerie music (including dripping water); at this point I start becoming concerned that the entire show will be bland and just plain odd. Though this felt like the weakest part of the entire show, it was uphill the entire way.

The set is spectacular, extremely true to an artist’s studio – yet still visually compelling. A variety of props are used throughout the performance; these are all used uniquely and keep the 60 minutes exciting. Along with props, the entire stage is utilized well and the dancers have a great presence on stage. These aspects allow for the audience to become engulfed in the space, even though this venue is quite large.

Shadows and other multimedia aspects are used throughout this show, but in no way are they overpowering or distasteful. There is a live camera feed onto the projection screen that the dancers are interacting with. This keeps the performance intriguing but the media doesn’t in any way take over the beautiful dancers.  Lights are also used creatively throughout the show; the dancers often cast their shadows onto the canvases behind them, which creates depth in the performance.

The adults seemed to love the show, from listening in and short conversations I had with them. When speaking to a few of the children that attended, they found it ‘creepy’ and although some liked it and others didn’t, the unanimous opinion seemed to be that they felt it was a bit weird, and that they didn’t quite understand it.  In the Q&A session, the kids were very intrigued by the props and special effects that were used.

I am happy to see that children are being exposed to dance, live performances and visual art. It is incredibly important to keep these arts alive. If bringing children to the show, be prepared to answer lots of questions – questions about technical production but also on the content of the performance. This is by no means a bad thing though, just a chance for them to think beyond a linear structure.