Someone once said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture; in both cases the latter cannot be communicated through the former. Maybe that's why, when the Chicken Shed theatre company approached me about staging a dance and martial-arts performance based on my book about globalization, I was -- to put it mildly -- a little skeptical. But this week I saw a performance of "Global-Eyes," and it took my breath away.
It was the bravest piece of dance theatre I have ever seen. It was riveting and tense. We don't think of dance as being a political medium, but now I see I underestimated the form and this troupe.
Twenty performers, many of them children and several disabled, brought the problem of globalization to life. The able-bodied children danced alongside the paraplegic and the developmentally disabled. They seemed superhuman: As the dance went on, the able-bodied children would lift and spin their disabled cohorts so gracefully. There was so much energy that costumes were ripping and falling off; sweat poured from their brows, and they simply kept going. They were transformed, right on the stage, by the message.
Given that the time from concept to production was less than 6 months, the sophistication of the show was remarkable. There was a video screen behind the stage displaying shocking and moving images and quotes from "Take It Personally," and a tickertape-style screen ticking off factoids which instantly contextualized the show.
I was almost apoplectic. The audience was frozen in their seats, agape with awe. What a gift, this performance. The pathos, the athleticism, the joy. They saw that the act of dissent could be a hopeful thing. It was like a benediction.
If you're in London on August 1-3, "Global Eyes" will be performed at the Lindbury Studio at The Royal Opera House. Then the group is taking the show to Ethiopia. I can't recommend it highly enough.