Review ‘Describing piece’ @ the Place 8th Feb 2014.
Heading back into the theatre after the requisite interval, I was ready to be dazzled, and Cai Tomos’ Describing Piece was just the ticket. Tomos stands with his back to us as a film trailer voiceover booms over the darkness, describing the dance with satiric gravitas. ‘Something meaningful is about to happen’ the voice intones, as Tomos peeks over his shoulder to catch a glimpse of the crowd, and his Mum. In fact, the show is based on a conversation with his mother, relayed to us via the trailer voice: ‘I don’t understand dance’, Mum says. ‘Mum, there is nothing to understand’, replies Tomos. Later, over much vocal hilarity from the audience and the soaring strains of Vivaldi, Tomos stares and reaches into the distance, while the voiceover explains the movement’s possible interpretations: ‘Arguing with God / Taking down a duvet because a friend is staying’. Performed to perfection, Describing Piece lit up the stage, completely captivating the tickled audience.
I’ve lost count of the times I’ve tried to convince dance non-believers that you don’t have to ‘understand’ dance in order to enjoy it. Now all I have to do is direct them to Cai Tomos’s Describing Piece, a video of which should be available in the foyer of every dance theatre. Former Earthfall performer Tomos’s solo, acutely observed and very, very funny, deconstructs every dance cliché in the book, from meaningful looks at the audience to running in circles shirtless, laying bare the tricks designed to make dance look deep and meaningful. As Vivaldi’s Four Seasons ebbed and flowed, a voiceover put the charismatic Tomos through this paces, offering a beginner’s guide to dance gestures: raising his arms to the sky, Tomos could be angry with God. On the other hand he could be flying a kite. Dedicated to Tomos’s Mum (who doesn’t understand dance), Describing Piece is a mini-masterpiece that sidesteps cheap mockery and springs from a deep affection for Tomos’s chosen art-form. ‘Sometimes,’ he confides, ‘Being alive is about dancing.’