Arts Review - H2DANCE Strangers and Others

Our latest recruit, Deborah, gives her verdict on last week's immersive dance performance at the Arts Centre.

We make judgements every day and with these preconceived ideas we have on the judgements we make, we alter our social interactions.

Strangers and Others, created by performance and choreographers Hanna Gillgren and Heidi Rustgaard and their company H2Dance, is a performance piece that takes these ideas and plays with the audience. Only there is no audience really – because the audience are the performers.

Arriving at Colchester Arts Center for this performance, I was pleasantly surprised to see quite a few people had gathered. Ushered to the side to await to enter, it was a chance to observe who was attending.

It was quite daunting entering the dark stage with my headphones on, not knowing what there was in store for everyone. The headphones were provided so that the choreographers could interact with us. After a short time, I realised that there were different headphone sets which meant that there were different choreographed meetings and interactions between different groups.

There was a certain amount of humour involved which lightened the mood. For example, trying to balance upright, whilst placing your knee on someone’s hip, while another person is on your shoulder and yet another is touching the tip of your nose, who in turn was holding a stranger’s hand, was a challenge and brought people together in amused co-operation and nervous laughter. We were their puppets and our strings were well and truly pulled.

Strangers and Others attempts to explore socialisation, interaction, tolerance, perceptions and the autonomy of your own actions. The concept is an interesting idea of observation, but I found that some of the context was lost during the performance that I participated in, as the group – from personal observation – was not diverse enough and appeared to me to have similar experiences of privilege.

I chose not to point at, walk up to, or choose people who I thought might be gay, rich or intolerant, as I was directed, because I don't feel one can place individuals into these categories at first glance, but seeing others make those judgements did make me question why people still make choices based on how someone looks. 

I would like to think that this exercise led the participants to question their preconceptions, and be wary in the future of judging the Strangers and Others that they shared the stage with on the night, but something tells me that experience may well soon be forgotten.

H2DANCE's tour continues with three performances at Norwich Arts Centre tomorrow, October 24th. Other dates here.