ENB Kinetic Echo: Our Dancing Selves

With the profile of dance and the presence of the arts on social media ever growing, it is about time that the concept of being followed and exposed was explored by a choreographer.

In this new commission Kinetic Echo: Our Dancing Selves, Choreographer Cameron McMillan and dancers of ENBYouthCo ask many questions of the audience and encourage discussion regarding the relationships between dance, artistic identity and the digital flow of information. Indeed, in this digital age the conversation is now able to continue post-performance through the use of hashtags, videos and images on English National Ballet’s social content page for the performance, www.ballet.org.uk/echo

The performance itself took place in the unique and public location of Westfield London (Shepherd’s Bush). As the performers dart about the stage with dynamism many passers-by stop and engage with what’s in front of them and, just as anticipated, it takes only a few seconds for phones, tablets and cameras to begin flashing and recording; surrounding the performance.

The piece builds quietly with the performers displaying fluid movements and jerking convulsions in contrast. One aspect of this performance that remains consistent is that they are being watched; by cameras, by phones and by each other. One performer with a camera strapped to her body has a particularly menacing presence as she enters the stage with a sinister glare.

In such a challenging environment I am struck by the professionalism of the young performers as they circle the main dance floor, skilfully captivate the unsuspecting shoppers in the audience. McMillan’s choreography ensures there are moments for individuals to shine, displaying their assured technique, as well as the striking and crowd-pleasing unison sections. Phones and cameras continue to follow the dancers as the music’s sobering intensity builds to a climax.

The performance does not end there and audiences are encouraged to share their ‘creative echo’ through a visual response to the work. This kaleidoscope of responses can all be found via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with the hashtags #ENBKineticEcho #ENBMyEcho and #ENBDancingSelf.

McMillan’s work unearths come current, sometimes controversial yet fascinating concepts that will surely be discussed and explored in the future as we edge towards a time when digital media is a performance in itself. Some would argue it already is…

Kinetic Echo is co-commissioned by English National Ballet and the Foundation for Community Dance for the Big Dance Weekend 2014 and Westfield Presents.

by Vikki Vile