If your brain and body were physically separated but still communicated via transceivers, where would “you” be? The conundrum was posed by philosopher Daniel Dennett in a thought-experiment in which his body leaves his brain to retrieve a warhead that destroys cerebral tissue; and it also sets the scene for Marguerite Galizia’s Where Am I? Dan Watson is the “I” in question, acting out the plot in circuits of the stage. But he – oddly, effectively – “dissociates”, the narration flicking between speech and voiceover, the story rebooting and ending up in different places, his body becoming a flipbook of nervy gesticulations as he switches from bemused enquirer to bewildered subject. Watson’s seemingly casual management of this multiplicity is virtuosic. The result is both very brainy and rather wonderful.
whereof we cannot speak, thereof we remain… sound, image, voice, body.
Rather wonderful too is dancer Joel O’Donoghue and musician Pete Yelding’s gently captivating duet Dragging Words. It too feels philosophical, or at least mystical. Yelding triggers swelling sound loops – a bassline, bowed strings, ambient chords, chants; O’Donoghue starts with a chewing noise which he expands – strangely, naturally – into stretchy gestures and curving crouches. A little echo-chamber of sound and action. Later, the pair sit on chairs, torsos pitching like dipping-bird toys as their disjointed, dippy dialogue keeps returning to the word “silence”. Music and dance return, and now they intone “silence” like a mantra. Beautifully done, and kind of revelatory too: whereof we cannot speak, thereof we remain… sound, image, voice, body.
Protocol Dance Company’s Manhood treads more familiar ground: an exploration of masculinity in street-dance style. The five guys begin rooted, their beating chests, rictus stomps and lashing arms exposing the cocktail of emotion, antagonism and restraint at the heart of krump. Choreographically more interesting are a series of tag-games that exaggerate the posturing, laughter, camaraderie and combativeness of their group dynamics, but the ending – two gasping men, suffering, alone, alienated – sounds a more obvious note. The piece certainly packs a punch, but offers only wiggle-room for nuance.