HeadSpaceDance Company – a darkly delicious Dance City delight

Rapunzel faces the chop

Arthur Pita and HeadSpaceDance make us wrestle with our deepest darkest demons, in their two part piece exploring the menacing possibilities of the stepmother/stepfather relationship.
The first piece is a kind of pantomime epitome of the wicked stepmother as portrayed in some of our most familiar fairy tales, as well as some more slightly made up ones. The stepmother exploits the innocence and vulnerability of her charge in Snow White and Cinderella. Hansel and Gretel come to a very sticky end at the hands of their wicked stepmother figure.

Hansel and Gretel are in a pickle

Rapunzel and Red Riding Hood suffer similar persecution and the writhing figures in the black capes take the youth and the life and the purity of the defenceless and the good. Corey Claire Annand has the perfect child like physique and open wide eyed, innocent face to play the prey at the mercy of the dark black caped predators. who simper and claw and tear at her.

Innocence versus evil

The look is camp Gothic, quite familiar to us now ever since the Rocky Horror Show. There’s pursuit and fear and death and some inevitably black humour and even a bit of cannibalism thrown in. I did think the music was a bit monochrome and that a better variety would have helped the performance even more.

Stolen children

The second piece – Stepfather -exploded onto the stage and drew us into the energy of the story from its first moment.  The soundtrack from cult American band Violent Femmes was a revelation and an inspiration for the tragic true story of the stepfather who loves his stepdaughter, is found out, and then throws her down a well.

Doting Daddy

He then becomes riddled with guilt and subsequently hangs himself. The song’s title the ‘Country Death Song,’ pretty much says it all. Incest, murder and suicide are all on the menu but there was also joy and love, anger and revenge. Our strongest feelings and taboos were dragged out into the open, there was a lot going on.
The quirky choreography gives the dancers plenty to help them interpret their characters and they all excelled in this outlandish exploration of madness, love and death. The upbeat crazy cabaret dancing of the three daughters was a particular highlight for me. ‘Dance Motherfucker Dance,’ is definitely another classic track!

Dancing daughters

I also loved the creepy but tender finale where the drowned daughter at the bottom the well (the excellent Clemmie Sveaas) appears to dance with the corpse of her father/lover, as it swings from its rope. It was peculiarly moving and darkly original..
‘The darker the piece, the more fun you have.’ admitted Arthur Pita in the after show talk. He also confirmed that the infectious American rock n roll music with its strong lyrics and the fact that it was based on a true story makes the piece stronger. It certainly does! HeadSpaceDance will be back at Dance City later in the year, don’t miss them. Dance City in Newcastle is now presenting the most varied and comprehensive programme of high quality contemporary dance outside of London. Find out what’s on next at Dance City