The choreography style draws heavily on the works of Pina Bausch. Bausch is known for her complex settings and for giving her dancers a sense of autonomy whilst encouraging them to lose control. Large parts of her Café Muller piece required the dancers to close their eyes and perform the choreography through a set of chairs and tables. Her show Rite of Spring had the dancers moving through a stage full of dirt. Understanding this influence in the piece helps to see how excellently incorporated Bausch’s influence was in Knitting While Sleeping.
Throughout the piece dancers alternately swirl and writhe through a dreamscape of delicate feathers. The feathers highlight every move. They create flurries of floating movement and show big, swirling patterns on the floor as the dancers push and slide through them. Despite the delicate feathers, the movement itself is rarely light. The dancers struggle and jerk through the space with energy. It draws a fine line between moving with purpose and losing control.
As an audience member on the floor, I felt nurtured by the dancers. They didn’t fight the audience at all. If someone laughed, they joined. We were never silenced, never threatened, just led through the experience perfectly capable of responding in our own ways. It’s sometimes hard to feel comfortable as an audience member onstage when there’s also an audience watching you. Knitting While Sleeping walked a comfortable line of moments of interaction and moments of allowing us to quietly spectate.
This is the show for anyone who’s been too nervous to go to see modern dance. It offers a variety of audience experiences all of which give you a fascinating look at an emotional, impressively physical world. Knitting While Sleeping is on at BATS Theatre from now until the 27th of February.