Dave St-Pierre Company, Sadler's Wells, London
Monday 06 June 2011
How do you establish yourself as an enfant terrible?
Canadian choreographer Dave St-Pierre takes the well-worn route of nudity. Dancers pounce on members of the audience, naked men waggling their genitalia in people's faces. This is much less ground-breaking than St-Pierre seems to think it is.
For these British performances, Sadler's Wells translates Un Peu de Tendresse Bordel de Merde! with the primly bowdlerised A Little Tenderness for Crying Out Loud!. The show starts with clothed dancers already in the auditorium. Men get in your way as you try to sit down. The women are more detached, lounging up and down the aisles. On stage, a naked man in a long blonde wig giggles and chatters in a falsetto voice.
Once the lights go down, a woman starts to harangue the audience, promising us a discomforting evening.
A cynical presence, she's most entertaining when she's talking about the show itself. When she interacts with the other performers, she becomes less interesting, inflicting predictable humiliations.
There are plenty of those. Putting their clothes back on, the men stand in a line, repeatedly slapping their own faces, their cheeks reddening. St-Pierre's scenes of embarrassment don't tell us what drives these people. The idea of "a little tenderness" is obvious: people hurting each other as they seek some connection. Yet both the hurt and the tenderness are by rote.
While St-Pierre is working hard at being scandalous, he uses gender stereotypes so casually that I wonder if he's noticed them. His use of male nudity tends to be comic. A dozen naked men put on blonde wigs and squeak through baby talk. When the women take their clothes off, it's much more about display and vulnerability.
Each time the dancers jump into the audience, it's the men who confront the spectators, climbing over the seats, demanding a response. The women perform unconvincing catfights in the aisles, stealing each other's dresses. St-Pierre might be making a point about the way men and women behave in society, but it looks more accidental than that. Perhaps he just thinks willies are funnier.
The piece ends with a moment of innocence. Naked dancers splash and slide in spilled water. The happy ending, the water, even the Arvö Part music are familiar dance theatre devices. For an enfant terrible, St-Pierre is very conventional.
Review: Of Mice and Men
By opportunistic local hoping to exhibit the work
Fans will be hoping the role finally wins him an Oscar
What do gigantic horse heads tell us about Falkirk?
Finnish Postal Service praises the 'self irony and humour' of the drawings
The actor has confessed to his own insecurities
Allotments are the focus of a new reality show
Arts & Ents blogs
The best movies on Netflix: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Game of Thrones season 4 episode 2 breaks torrent record as fans watch online
The original Breaking Bad ending saw every character die
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'
Paul Walker's brothers stand in for actor’s final scenes for Fast & Furious 7 movie
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Nigel Farage on Have I Got News For You: Ukip leader ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
- 1 Poveglia: 'World's most haunted island' up for sale...is anyone brave enough to buy it?
- 2 Big Bang Theory to get special Star Wars episode with help from Lucasfilm
- 3 Babies cry at night to stop mothers procreating, scientists claim
- 4 Pharrell Williams 'Happy': British Muslims dance to song in video
- 5 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews