Leviathan Review

By Carys Svendsen

*****/5

“…to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.”

-Herman Melville

As a person who is unaccustomed to attending dance shows, I was instantly sold by Leviathan, mainly due to its awesome title and the fact that it was the first time the James Wilton Dance Company came to Taliesin.

I’ve always been intrigued by dance due to its purposeful movements and debates on interpretation. Each movement throughout the performance, even to a simple flick of the wrist, was made with deliberate intentions for the sake of the character the dancer was portraying. This was particularly seen within the opening sequence of Leviathan, which was equally as terrifying as it was enthralling. The show begins with man/Ahab slowly stomping around stage and establishing dominance over others in a seemingly rhythmical display. The whole show is fantastically choreographed but the first scene, which begins to delve into Ahab’s obsession with the White Whale, is particularly memorable.

Leviathan brought James Wilton Dance to the Taliesin for the first time

The White Whale herself was phenomenal on her movements as well as costume. Easy to identify due to her all-white outfit, she moves around the stage with grace, majesty and power. She was one of my favourite characters from the show just because of the sheer fluidity of her slightly animalistic movements (she is meant to represent a whale, after all) with omnipotent overtones. Just when you think she’s captured by Ahab, you are corrected as she controls the ropes that Ahab hands out. My favourite scene from the show has to be through Ahab seemingly controlling the ropes but all is not what it seems. Suddenly Ahab’s greatest trap turns on himself and he fights the ropes around him whilst the music sets a tense atmosphere and a sense of moral ambiguity within Ahab himself due to the audience wanting him to be free from the ropes, Ahab’s movements creating a sense of sympathy, and yet you know that if he is free, he’ll go after the White Whale once again.

Leviathan itself presents moral ambiguity through its characters. The White Whale is a clear hero throughout the performance, but Ahab’s character generates a slight pang of sympathy within the audience due to his decline of sanity through his obsession of catching the White Whale, as well as the conflict between him and his crew. This, accompanied with music by Lunatic Soul, creates a unique tale of personal struggle with obsession alongside the overhanging tones of Man against Nature.  If you ever get the chance to see a performance by James Wilton Dance, I highly recommend seeing them in action. Words cannot express how much I loved Leviathan (but the poster in my living room of the performance is a clear indicator) and I am very excited to see their next production at the Taliesin!

Be sure to follow @jwiltondance on Twitter or check out their website (www.jameswiltondance.org.uk ) for show updates!

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