Dance Review







Sweet or Sour presents

Generation Next


The Space

20th – 22nd November 2008


The Pacific Playhouse

 26th – 30th November 2008


ary Couzens

A review by Alice McKenzie for EXTRA! EXTRA!


Martin Luther King Jr. is shot dead and soon after, Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act. At the Mexico Olympics two African-American athletes on the winners podium raise their fists in a black power salute. Enoch Powell makes his speech against immigration to the UK, warning of increasing racial tensions. American involvement in the Vietnam War sparks demonstrations across the globe and soldiers are sent back for involuntary second tours. The streets of Paris, Prague and Warsaw boil with revolutionary protest. And, interestingly, Saddam Hussein is named Vice Chairman of the revolutionary council in Iraq following a coup. Performance maker and poet Tonny A looks both back and forward, finding much in that revolutionary year to think about today.

The concept of Generation Next is quite fascinating. A historical game of mix and match whereby Tonny A applies Milan Kundera´s question: “what happened once may not have happened at all”. If history repeats itself, could the parallels of today have happened if they hadn't happened already once before? How much do we learn from our (very near) past? And, its intriguing to think of how much of the events of that year lay the groundwork for the events of this year.

Complicated stuff to communicate to an audience through movement and as such the dance was the more tentative aspect of the performance. The group work could have been tighter and stronger and the solos and duets more bold, or perhaps… simpler.

Nela Brown´s sound score and Orla Orbach´s projection work well to tie the concepts of the piece together. The sound is an interesting and well-thought out collage of speeches from 1968 and now. And behind this, two layers of screens showing computer game images of war and sketches of moving figures in evocative poses. This may sound like a lot, but the projection was allowed to hover on one image or idea for a while, leaving the audience a bit of space to look around.

In the face of all of the visual and aural information, the dance did tend to get a bit lost at times. Perhaps the costume made communication between the audience and the performer more difficult. The unisex tunics and balaclavas were visually eye-catching and suggested “the mass”. I especially liked the shiny black buttons embroidered over one balaclava… Yet when the performers were suggesting something of a human relationship, the balaclavas made them feel less human and harder to feel anything for. The sketches in the projection seemed to have been taken from the choreography and were interesting in their own right. I wonder what would have changed in the performance if they had used those sketches to re inform it?

Generation Next  is presented as an experiment in performance. It certainly made me think and sparked an interest of my own in the year 1968. The ideas were engaging and the mixing of art forms has the potential to be really powerful if that delicate balance between them can be found.



Box office:
Tickets - £10/£8/£6 (Conc.)
The Space: 269 Westferry Road London E14 3RS
The Pacific Playhouse: 62 Southwark Bridge Road London SE1 0AT



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