Morir Soñando, Blue Elephant Theatre

Words by: Mike Scott-Harding | Published: Thursday, November 10, 2016 2:56 PM
Morir Soñando, Blue Elephant Theatre Morir Soñando, Blue Elephant Theatre

This dance piece is an exploration of racism and colonialisation, seen through the eyes (and heart) of choreographer Stephanie Peña.


It is a strong, ‘in-your-face’ message; one that is both timely and timeless.

It starts off with Titilayo Adebayo – Stephanie’s alter ego – sitting cross-legged, with her back to the audience. Gradually, as merengue music plays, her body starts responding in a series of rhythmic ripples and undulations. As the music progresses, so does the movement; her body obeying the call of the syncopated rhythms, she communes both physically and spiritually with her ancestors.


The joy – and guileless naivete - that she has, while engaging in this sacrament, make her oblivious to the three encroaching (White) dancers.
Starting out as ‘sleeping husks’, their bodies are forced to ‘react’ to the music. Very soon, the emotionless trio start attempting to copy the movements they see from our (black) heroine.


The infectious merengue music, and Rebecca Craig’s evocative lighting give the piece propulsion and atmosphere.


Morir Soñando, Blue Elephant Theatre Morir Soñando, Blue Elephant Theatre

The Blue Elephant Theatre, is a lovely small-scale theatre. I say this because such local community theatres should be cherished and nurtured – just like the emerging artists who get to ‘play’ within it.

Although moving in time to the music, they seem increasingly dissatisfied when comparing themselves to her. So – with increasing insistence – they attempt to take more and more from her. Despite their repeated – and increasingly violent – efforts, her spirit keeps rising, until finally - her dance wins the day.


It is a strong, ‘in-your-face’ message; one that is both timely and timeless.


Miss Adebayo’s dancing is good, as is her general performance. She embodies a wide range of ‘exploited experience’ (incomprehension, discomfort, acquiescence, opposition, and rebellion), and is certainly engaging.
The other dancers, although sometimes a little ‘one-note’ - emotionally (and physically) - seemed to embody the choreographer’s vision well enough.


The Blue Elephant Theatre, Camberwell, is a lovely small-scale theatre. The staff are friendly and helpful, and the ‘black box’ performance space is intimate, yet spacious. I say this because such local community theatres should be cherished and nurtured – just like the emerging artists who get to ‘play’ within it.


Miss Peña’s ambition is to be commended; I look forward to seeing what else she might do in the future.


Info: Morir Soñando was at the Blue Elephant Theatre on 7-8 November 2016 / Find out more




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