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23rd June 2015

Review: 5 Soldiers – The Body is the Frontline

Rosie Kay Dance Company performed “5 Soldiers – The body is the Frontline” at the Army Research Centre in Manchester.

How does it feel to live as a solder in a foreign country, having to face death every day? HOME theatre invited a newly formed group of young dancers of the UK, who tried to communicate this feeling through the medium of dance. The Manchester dance leader and choreographer Sam Broadbent created a strong performance through body expression, music, and screen. Their performance is based on Rosie Kay’s research at Headley Court Rehabilitation Centre which works with injured soldiers. Furthermore, the dancers themselves spent time with the army in order to understand and perform a soldier’s character.

No voice is necessary for this performance. The body moves. Sometimes the bodies form one entity. At that moment there is no individual existing. Sometimes one body tries to escape the green-clothed and well-functioning collective. Then the Leviathan, the one body build out of several individuals, breaks. But the individual does not remain as such. He or she gets punished and soon vanishes in the mass again, where it has to function as an entity again.

The audience is faced with a reality which one normally tries to avoid. It illustrates parts of the live as a solder, a life before, during and after the war. The surrounding, the Army Research Centre in Rusholme, reinforces the feeling of army life.

During the performance, co-ordinates and military codes in different languages appeared on the screen at the same time as the dancers did push-ups. While they ran, one could only hear their shoes scuttling, creating a frightening rhythm while their breath started to go faster. Those sounds created a depressing atmosphere.

Some scenes might have been a bit too exaggerated, or even a bit too unrealistic due to their length which broke the unique atmosphere which has been created—for instance, the dance scene in which the solders danced to a Katy Perry song for a long period of time.

Otherwise, the scene in which the male and female dancer performed together was very strong. It displayed the struggle as a male soldier when loving a woman, and simply following the human instinct of having sex.

The end of the performance seemed rather long and forced the viewer to feel uncomfortable. A soldier had been wounded heavily in the war and lost his legs. He tries to start walking again without legs. 5 Soldiers leaves the audience astonished due to the brilliant and real performance of the five dancers. The medium of dance is a very powerful and very well chosen medium to convey the message, namely how the life of a soldier really is.

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