The Lowry, Salford, Greater Manchester
By Harry Smith
The advance blurb billed it a promenade performance. The programme note called it ‘a visual poem about human beings’ insatiable desire to get closer to things, celebrating the physical structure of the bodies we inhabit and the ways we attempt to see, define, contain, name and value them’ (the ‘body we inhabit’ referring to the theatre itself). And the Clod Ensemble’s Anatomie in Four Quarters certainly lived up to its own description: by cutting a path through The Lowry’s auditorium, we were able to change our vantage point for each of the four movements, thereby celebrating the structure of the metaphorical theatre body.
The first movement, from up in the gods, featured an intensely lit performer on a table just metres from the audience, whilst a marketplace of activity unfolded comparatively arbitrarily on the stage below. The fourth, by contrast, situated the audience on stage, looking out into the stalls, which provided a beautiful backdrop against which the dancers cut striking silhouettes. The use of proxemics in dance is not a new idea, and yet this was certainly one of the best thought-out and compellingly realised that I have witnessed.
If I had a problem, it was with the music, which incoherently compiled solo bagpipes, the Manchester Camerata and a three-piece rock band, for no apparent reason. Nevertheless, the dancing of the Clod Ensemble was first class, and An Anatomie, a triumph.