For the dancers in Becky Namgauds’ Rodadoras, the earth is as much a costume as their vests. Namgauds’ creation is like an earthier version of Pina Bausch’s Rite of Spring that goes a step further than using a stage covered in soil. Performing in the drizzle, on a muddy strip of field, the trio of women are first seen in a heap, faces hidden by their long hair, slowly morphing into what looks like a giant creepy-crawly that shivers and itches to the sound of percussion. The women rub soil into their limbs and locks, separating for a series of solos, but always seeming interconnected. If this beast has grown out of the soil it clearly wants to return – bodies thud to the ground repeatedly, as if desperate to be subsumed.
Across the way, in a grass bowl to the front of the house, another piece takes an ecological stance – this time, it’s a word-free dance work, Rodadoras, by Becky Namgauds. I miss the first half of this 24-minute piece, so I don’t know how it starts, but at the point at which I come in, I witness an intense choreography in the José Limón /Doris Humphreys style: lots of reaching, bending, slamming into the ground; playing with weight, and exploring the rhythms of falling and recovering balance. The three women toss back long manes of hair, and roll ecstatically in the earth. The message here is a purely physical and visceral one: the female body free from the restrictions of the male gaze, and the constraints of polite society, just being herself – wild and free.
Rodadoras in the sunshine in the heart of the Rose Garden at Chatsworth House was joyous, intense, political and fresh as bodies buried in the soil arose and writhed in awe and strength. Visitors to the gardens stumbled across it, drawn by the guttural soundscape resonating across the lawns and a flailing mass of hair and feminine power evoking surprise and curiosity. One young woman, severely disabled who comes to the garden every day with her parents was mesmerised and animated by the beat and the movement returning to all three performances. Another joyful moment was when some children asked to mimic the piece in the soil in-between performances to which the dancers warmly obliged. The performance was curated to blur the lines between the environment and art and worked perfectly, an open invitation to everyone to explore something new and exciting from afar or close up and see Chatsworth in another light. Becky’s choreography is bold and full of heart and this resonated, witnessed in the smiles, focus and attention of the audience of all ages.
Beki Bateson, Director of Chatsworth Arts Festival
Rodadoras is a brilliant and clever dance piece for outdoor setting. The physicality of the dancers and the choreography are simply stunning. Gripping from beginning until end!
Lucie Mirkova, Artistic Director, Birmingham International Dance Festival
Namgauds has created a suite of haunting images on a delicate subject that unsettles and challenges the traditional outdoor arts festival content.
In many years of photographing Greenwich+Docklands Festival this performance really stands out. Original soundtrack and remarkable choreography coupled with amazing performances.
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Choreography by Becky Namgauds
Musical composition by Domenico Angarano
Performed by (double cast)
Production Manager - Steph Berge
Rodadoras was first created by Becky Namgauds in July 2016 for East Wall Warm Up, produced by East London Dance and Hofesh Shechter Company as part of LIFT as a scratch performance at Roof East, Stratford.