the chomondeleys and the featherstonehaughs
They’ve been hovering on my dance consciousness for years. ‘Oh yes, those all-male, all-female types with the tricksy names’. (You pronounce it the Chumleys and Fanshaws… of course) but, of course, I’d never actually seen them.
Friends of mine Theo and Antonia had done a dizzyingly camp and wonderful duet in their show back last year by C&F choreographer Lea Anderson and I was dizzyfied by that – all 80s vogueing, choreographed arched eyebrows and cocked hips – but nothing prepared me for the dark wonder that is “Yippeeee!!”
The blurb mentions Busby Berkely and big costumes but it was Busby on crack. Esther Williams swimming in opium syrup. From the beginning when those interchangeably male or female dancers slid on in their silver court shoes into stark pools of side light, the tone was set.
I love dance peices and theatre pieces that have a tone and stick to it. Create a world however unsettling and odd and stay coherent. “Yippeee!!” is like that. The wild noise terror/wonder of the Yum Yum band (the latest incarnation of Anderson’s longtime musical collaborator, Steve Blake) accompanied a relentless unfurling of hypnotic shapes and patterns. Duets of sinisterly camp asexual dancers with giant inflatable behinds or crazy careening fans of dancers with pom-poms and grim glitter.
It’s good and unsettling. Just as I like it. It bordered on the unbearable at times which is just as good art should be. (Poor Gary besides me was clutching his head in horror for most of it). But it was definitely the most exciting piece of dance I’ve seen in years – certainly the best that’s come out of Britain. And I am new fan.
Go see them. Don’t try and spell them, but see them.