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Drop Dead Gorgeous, Crucible Studio, Sheffield

By Clare Jones

Sheffield Telegraph, 2 November 2001

They say the world changed after 11 September and that life can never be the same. Media hype? Political rhetoric? Or perhaps the zeitgeist has changed.

Imagery of previous wars, once too shocking and too real, now seem nostalgic, faintly fictitious.

So the Second World War imagery of Drop Dead Gorgeous (a dance piece without text performed by the Vincent Dance Theatre and Poland’s Dada von Bzudlow Theatre) seemed just that.

Performers showed us brittle fragments of a 20th century war-cripples Poland, when love becomes rape, buildings become rubble and compassion becomes survival.

Bodies are always collaterally damaged in war and the physical struggle in this performance was made brilliantly clear, as the dancers fought their way through the rubble and debris covering the stage.

TC Howard’s heart-breaking portrait of a victim abused by faceless rapists offered just one view of damage.

The grotesque dance by Aurora Lubos of an injured girl on crutches offered another. But it was in those moments when the entire company flinched and convulsed, rising to flinch and convulse again and again, as innocent targets of a firing squad, that we were mad to realise the relentlessness of war’s physical atrocities.

Drop Dead Gorgeous offered a bleak and brutal vision of war. But the dancers’ hands dripping in crimson blood was too crude an image.

The conflicts played out in this performance evoke the fears of the 20th century, which seem obsolete in a contemporary world that fears destruction by unknown, bloodless weapons.