I’ve seen dance in grand theatres, in concert halls, seated on the ground in a police station (a summer dance programme in Copenhagen in case you are wondering!), in a labyrinth (Dansk Danseteater) and other theatre spaces, but never on a bus. Java Dance Company have produced a piece, Back of the Bus, specifically created to be performed on a bus. It turned out to be an exuberant and action packed dance experience, not to be forgotten.
Java Dance are a small dance group founded in 2003 by graduates of the New Zealand School of Dance. They “present original works of its own immersive brand of dance theatre” as it says on their website, and have performed in places all around New Zealand and Australia.
We boarded the bus at the Circa Theatre, and just as we were about to set off, one of the dancers ran on at the last minute, shopping bags in hand, and proceeded to empty them searching for something, interacting with the audience (handing out marshmallows), throwing popcorn and generally causing chaos.
We were then escorted off the bus by a second dancer, quite a different character, flirtatious and playful, into a gallery where we were coached into forming a circle holding hands. This interlude of course allowed the bus to be cleaned up. The next section on the bus saw the second dancer again distributing flowers, sitting on knees (including mine) and generally flirting with members of the audience. A mobile phone began to ring….the signal for a third dancer to join in, a different character again, agitated and anxious.
The bus stopped again, and this time we were led into what appeared to be some sort of photographer’s studio, which allowed the dancers space to dance. There were some really nice moments here, and a chance to really see what they could do. It was then back on the bus again for the last section, where we saw the dancers hanging upside down from the roof of the bus, met the fourth character, a fitness instructor who made us do some arm ‘exercises’, and were generally treated to more energy and acrobatics.
All in all, a great experience, and highly recommended (unless you don’t want dancers giving you flowers, flirting with you or sitting on your knee!). The company are heading off to Edinburgh to perform Back of the Bus during the festival there this year.
Pictures from Java Dance Company’s website You can also see other clips of the piece through the website.