The Place/Robin Howard Dance Theatre, 17 Duke’s Road, WC1H 9PY London
When does childhood end? When do we stop feeling young and start feeling old? How do we relate to each other across the generations? Showing for two nights at contemporary dance venue the Place in Euston, H2DANCE’s new show Staging Ages uses movement and text to explore our perceptions of aging and consider society’s expectations fo us as we grow older.
Founded in 1999 by a pair of choreographers and performers – Heidi Rustgaard from Norway and Sweden’s Hanna Gillgren – H2DANCE has developed an international reputation for using dance and performance to examine complex social issues such as conformism, groupthink and the balance of power. In the 16 years since its inception, the company has masterminded 11 interdisciplinary dance performances, two dance films and numerous commissioned pieces for organisations across the UK and Europe.
This show, the first since their 2013 Place Prize finalist Duet (winner of the Audience Vote for seven nights running), challenges the dance world’s approach to dancers’ ages, bodies and expected career span. Featuring five dancers, aged from nine and 65, Staging Ages looks at the gaps and overlaps between the generations, interrogating notions of pride, prejudice, norms and taboos with insight and humour. The ensemble includes experimental dance pioneer Dr Emilyn Claid, Professor of Choreographic Practices at the University of Roehampton, former editor of New Dance Magazine and veteran of a 50-year career.
Explaining the inspiration behind the show, Heidi Rustgaard says: “Having recently worked with children’s choirs, we got excited about how the children changed the aesthetics of the work. Hanna and I are now both well into our 40s and questions around age, in relation to being dancers, regularly come up. It became important to us to present a range of ages on stage to look at what each age group brings to the work. We are interested in real stories and reactions and asked the dancers to think about how we perceive and act our age, as well as remembering their past and projecting into the future”.