ORIGINALLY staged by Les Ballets Russes in 1917, with Serge Diaghilev as choreographer and Pablo Picasso as set designer, this updated version of the revolutionary dance-theatre piece by National Dance Company of Wales (NDCW) is stunning.
It’s the centrepiece of an evening whose cultural and political significance is triumphantly realised by artist Marc Rees and choreographer Caroline Finn. They’ve pulled off an event combining dance, theatre and comedy which is pure joy.
The action starts outside the theatre as actor Eiry Thomas plays a politician meeting and greeting the public and who then mounts a rostrum to give the first of two highly comic yet moving speeches.
The fiery politician extols the virtues of robots taking over production as students from Cardiff’s Rubicon dance school — later they’re dotted around the theatre’s entrances as robots taking over human jobs — play protesting workers.
As the audience moves through the theatre to take their seats, they’re confronted by a fabulous group of male dancers performing a hilarious and hypnotic routine as Stepford Wives shopping in a supermarket.
In the theatre, Eiry Thomas gives the second of her speeches and does a hilarious mimicry of Theresa May’s ill-fated coughing-fit speech.
But the two dances in the auditorium are the breathtaking main event. In Finn’s P.A.R.A.D.E. the dancers work with cardboard boxes and sticky tape to create a truly stunning spectacle of physical dexterity as malfunctioning robots trying to pack a warehouse.
The second piece Tundra, choreographed by Marcos Morau, is 30 minutes of fluid and mesmeric robotic movement as the dancers move in rhythmic synchronicity to the shrill score.
The production has only had a handful of performances in Cardiff and Bangor but the creativity and energy invested in it merit a wider audience. Fingers crossed, it’ll get a revival by NDCW and if that happens, don’t miss.
Highlights of P.A.R.A.D.E. will be broadcast on BBC Four at 10.40pm on November 5. DAVID NICHOLSON