Friday 12 October 2018

My Sight: Their Sight - Circus Review

What: My Sight - Their Sight
When: 11 - 14 October 2018
Where: Melba Spiegeltent
Performed by: Ryan Darwin, Romain Hassanin, and Abby Madden
Ryan Darwin
Blindful is a dance/circus venture created by Abby Madden and the show My Sight - Their Sight is a part of this year's Sidesault festival. Exploring the question of how the loss of sight affects a person's understanding of space and safety, this show kicks off the nightly program at the Melba Spiegeltent.

My Sight - Their Sight is an idea Madden was interested in exploring and for which she created the company Blindful. Born with glaucoma, Madden was interested in how sight (and the lack of it) affects physicality and interconnection.

Madden is a contemporary dancer. Joining her on this journey is another dancer and parcour specialist (!) Hassanin, and circus artist Darwin.

For the most part, My Sight - Their Sight is a dance show. Hassanin has a love of break dancing so it is no surprise there is a lot of floor work.

There is only really one nod to circus, which is Darwin's beautiful rope routine. He is blindfolded and it is fascinating watching him carefully measure out his height on the rope with his feet. Darwin is phenomenally strong and it is awe inspiring to watch him spend so much time just swinging by one hand, especially blindfolded! Anyone who has worn a blindfold knows how wierd and disorienting it is - and to be swinging it must be so much worse!

The show starts with running though. Lots of it. The company of three run in and out of the circle of chairs playing some sort of game of hide and seek. The energy and the running never stop and we get to see the extreme fitness of the troupe in every step, jump, and dance move they make.

The blindness explorations start simply with the company trying to spin on the spot, jump in sequence and box step together. The blind folds come on and off.

I loved the commentary on how, when blindfolded they had to be more mindful because they had less sensory data to inform. There is an extended repetitive sequence where Hassanin is blindfolded and keeps trying to do a floor roll/spin sequence and Darwin calls out when he is safe, and Madden tells him to reset when he gets too close to the audience - which means he has to start everything from the beginning each time. This is why it is important to not move furniture or leave chairs poking out around people with vision impairment!

I love the concept of My Sight - Their Sight and all of the performers are incredibly skillful. The show is very short though - maybe forty minutes - and I think this is because the idea just hasn't got enough body yet. Even as a dance it feels more like a series of rehearsal room explorations than a finished performance with intention. The endless repetitions didn't help the sensation that this work isn't finished either. I know that is an elements of contemporary dance but too much and it just looks like filling in time.

I also would have liked to see much more exploration of the blindness. There was too much time with full sight for the blindfolds looking to look like much more than a gimmick. I would have liked to see more successes in that state, more actuation and celebrations of positive outcomes.

My Sight - Their Sight is a show which has great potential and I look forward to seeing it fully realised in the future. It is a nice, gentle start to the evening of circus happening in Sidesault this week though, and has just the right elements to help switch out of work mode and get your into the right headspace for a great night of circus at the Melba Spiegeltent.

2.5 Stars

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