Bound To Please
REVIEW ... Tramway, Glasgow
by Christopher Bowen
The Scotsman | Apr 12 1997
Lloyd Newson has spent the best part of ten years pulling a rug from under the pretty pink toe-shoes of ballet and shoving a defiant index finger in the face of modern dance.
This he has gratifyingly done through the frighteningly physical and emotionally disturbing pieces he has created for and with DV8 — a repertoire which represents probably the finest body of work created by a British theatre ensemble in recent memory.
But nothing Newson has done before explores his uncomfortable relationship with dance quite like Bound To Please.
On the face of it, this is a piece which compares the rigours and disciplines of dance with social conformity. "Why are we doing this?" asks Wendy Houstoun as she struggles to make her body fit into the corps picture: "We're not all the same, are we?" Indeed not. But that won't stop society, let alone ballet society, from feeling distinctly uncomfortable with individualistic behaviour.
Newson deftly makes his point in scenes which place the misfit centre stage, from Houstoun stumbling defiantly through her fouettés to the courageous vision of Diana Payne-Myers — a dancer in her sixties — engaged in a naked embrace with a man who could be her grandson. I doubt if any DV8 scene has made an audience feel more ill at ease; you could have heard a pin drop were it not for the sound of air being sucked through clenched teeth.
Ultimately though, Bound To Please sets out to demonstrate how obsessed with youth, beauty and pretty movements dance can be. Newson makes a convincing argument in a wickedly funny pastiche of facile English contemporary dance, but the own-goal he scores is the ultimate winner; after all, the medium he works in is dance.