High kicks and high jinks

Troop, Colchester Arts Centre, November 15, 2007. Choreographed by East Anglian-based Jane Turner, Troop probably best fits the category of dance theatre.

Katy Evans

Troop, Colchester Arts Centre, November 15

Choreographed by East Anglian-based Jane Turner, Troop probably best fits the category of dance theatre. There were elements of song, elements where the acting became more important than the dance, but mostly the performance focused on the movements and characters of the seven showgirls: some saucy, some overtly raunchy, some haughty, some aloof.

All dressed in skimpy leotards - blue, red, green, violet - with bare legs, the showgirls basked in the audience attention, bursting onto the stage with high kicks and huge smiles. But as the performance went on, the mood changed from exuberance to exhaustion, and back again.

Playful and provocative, the girls went through the motions of putting on their make-up and attire, messing about back stage and interacting with the two male performers - one a kind of ring master and one a dancing drummer.

Performance-wise, it was clear who the ballet dancers were as their movements were carried out with more grace and precision than the others. However, the classically-trained girls looked out of place in such a contemporary, earthy, seductive style of show: their movements were too refined and their faces expressionless for almost the entire time, whereas the other girls smiled, winked, made eye contact with the audience and generally looked like they were up to mischief, which was far more fitting.

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There were certain story threads to pick up on - such as the relationship between one of the girls and the drummer boy, one girl's binge-eating problem (at least I think it was biscuits in the bag) and in another section, one girl shook and twitched with such intensity it appeared she was suffering some kind of drug-related withdrawal symptoms.

In the main, the performance was quite abstract, set to a backdrop of cinematic clips of showgirls and kaleidoscopic patterns. One innovative section had a tiny showgirl circling round and round on a suspended hoop projected onto two of the dancers' bare skin.

The 40-minute performance was over in a flash, such was the interest maintained the entire time. Although rather strange in places, this erotic, exotic show of scantily-clad young women was rather mesmerising and is sure to attract audiences wherever it goes.

Katy Evans

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