Looking ‘Beyond the Marigolds’ with Moving Memory

Photo: Moving Memory Dance Theatre Company

Ideas Test’s Creative Producer Jane and intern Jade went to watch separate performances of the brilliant “Beyond The Marigolds” by Moving Memory. Here’s a review of the performance from Friday 2 December…

It’s the first Friday in December and while many minds might turn to Christmas, over at the Gulbenkian thoughts were turning towards the past as well as the near future. Moving Memory Dance Theatre Company presented ‘Beyond the Marigolds’, a long-form performance piece focused on life’s messy acts of meaning.

Provokingly titled, ‘Beyond the Marigolds’ is a cleverly veiled challenge of the overly incorrect stereotype sometimes associated with more mature women. Poignant personal memoirs are woven within the show, proving that women over fifty are still full of shades and tones. More than that, it proves that everyone – every woman – has a story to tell.

While Moving Memory are a dance theatre company, this show feels more like an intimate performance piece than a dance show in the traditional sense. A contemporary mix of moving music and spoken word carries the audience on a collective journey. Images and videos constantly roll across the digital screen, complementing the performances on the stage and perhaps subtly symbolising life’s continual movement from one messy act to another. The world keeps turning and so do we.

‘Beyond the Marigolds’ extends beyond the usual parameters of a dance show, but there are a number of identifiable choreographic features scattered throughout. For example, the use of canon (the same dance moves performed first by one performer and then subsequently repeated by others) in the early part of the show is particularly effective, highlighting how life often works in waves of repetition. Love, loss, boredom, belonging – universal themes that create cohesion and unite generations are all firmly featured. A comical refrain in which the performers portray, to highly humorous effect, life in the confines of a kitchen feels like an audience favourite. The finale also receives rapturous applause, as marigold gloves fly from the front of the stage in a literal throwing off of a long-outdated stereotype. These interludes contribute a comical element that doesn’t take anything away from the sincerity of show, instead making ‘Beyond the Marigolds’ feel like a true celebration of love, longevity and life.

The show itself isn’t centred around age but there is something to be said about the level of assurance shown by the seven leading ladies. Stepping onto a stage at any age can be a nerve-wracking moment, but there’s a quiet confidence among the core company performers that is often only achieved by people who have a wealth of life experience. At fifteen, the thought of going wrong on stage, of forgetting the steps, can feel embarrassing and somewhat synonymous to the end of the world. At fifty? Perhaps less so. As the narrative of ‘Beyond the Marigolds’ demonstrates, these leading ladies have the advantage of perspective; they have already survived worse. By delving deeply into their rich, colourful pasts, they’ve created art for the present and it’s truly fantastic to see.

For more information about Moving Memory Dance Theatre Company, visit their website www.movingmemorydance.com or find them on Twitter @MovingMemdance