The Dog Days Are Over: Friday 14 October 2016 | The MAC

The performance took place in the ‘Downstairs’ theatre in the MAC and when the audience arrived the dancers were already on stage waiting for us, warming up and stretching, similar to what you would do before a workout. I wondered was this part of the performance as they were watching us filtering into our seats. As the last person sat down, the eight dancers walked forward and each of them put on their socks and trainers. With the house lights still up, the dancers slowly built up to their ultimate movement; the jump.

For 70 minutes we watched the dancers’ hop, leap and bounce through a most exhausting routine of which required the utmost endurance and concentration from those performing…and from those in the audience. Through a mixture of wonderfully styled geometric patterns, we saw how punishing this was on our dancers, some visibly pained with the extent of the routine. At times it seemed so invasive watching these performers put their bodies through this but as the show continued I was willing them on hoping that each of them make it through to the end.

The festival director, Richard Wakely, led a Q&A session with choreographer, Jans Martens at the end of the performance which allowed the audience to understand the mind-set behind Jans’ creation. He explained he was trying to show the fine line between art and entertainment with a comparison to reality television or those in the gladiator arenas where we didn’t want to watch this painful process but championed the subjects by the end. He explained that the routine took only 4 weeks to put together and due to the arduous nature of the piece, they rotated dancers when they took it on the road so to rest those not in use.

This wouldn’t be something I would normally go to as I prefer live theatre to have a more blatant story but I was totally mesmerised by what I witnessed that I felt privileged to be part of something so different. It truly represented everything the Festival is about and really opened my eyes to venturing into more diverse theatre performances.

Sherene Masterson, Ulster Bank Arts Ambassador

Photo © Alwin Poiana