Lizzie J Klotz is a dance and theatre artist based in Newcastle. Her triple bill, Fawn and other works performed at Dance City last month, blended old-ish work with brand new material and displayed her talents as both dancer and choreographer.
Opening piece To Suit dates from 2014 and featured original dancers Alys North and Charlie Dearnley. Lizzie describes it as “an exploration into animal courtship rituals, drawing comparison between humans and birds.” A recent trip to Malta allowed Lizzie, Alys and Charlie the time and space to update and augment the work for this performance. The result was a piece that connected with the audience from the start. The dancers were confident and impressive in roles they now know very well. The audience seemed to respond as one to this humorous, thought-provoking piece. We relished listening and watching Alys and Charlie use their voices and bodies to comment on gender normative expectations within relationships.
The second part of the triple bill was film Dancing with my Dad, created in collaboration with Newcastle-based filmmaker Alex Ayre. This new 15 minute work celebrates the relationship between Lizzie and her father, David who is billed as both co-choreographer and performer. The film revels in their closeness and the way they communicate with each verbally and physically. They reminisce, enjoy each other’s company and play together. Two big kids on the screen highlight the child inside every member of the audience.
Dancing with my Dad is a beautiful, well-constructed film with the right mix of audio commentary and dance. The film is touching, for example when Lizzie’s feet rest on her Dad’s as he moves around the floor. What child hasn’t done the same when dancing with an adult? The audience enjoyed Lizzie and David’s tribute to Dad Dancing: wigging out on the dance floor at a party.
As I watched the film I thought about the last dance I had with my Dad, less than two years before his death. We danced to daft 1950s track She Wears Red Feathers by Guy Mitchell at my parents’ Golden Wedding bash. Dancing with my Dad has emotional resonance for the bereaved and those living without a father figure as well as children of all ages planning presents and cards for this month’s Father’s Day. I think Ayres’ film is an everlasting Father’s Day present to David Klotz.
The evening ended with Fawn, a new solo work by Lizzie. The programme notes intrigued, telling us Fawn “explores the act of pleasing as a response to fear, threat and failure.” I found the 20 minute performance unexpected, clever, funny and unnerving. Every gesture and movement by Lizzie was matched by perfect lighting and sound. The input of artist Rosa Postlethwaite as Dramaturg was credited in the Q and A session afterwards. I’m not sure how much Rosa contributed to the piece but overall Fawn presents as seamless collaboration between onstage performer and offstage workers.
During the Q & A David Klotz described working with his daughter as an “inspiring process” which seems an apt description for this triple bill. It was inspiring to sit in with Lizzie’s home crowd in Dance City and feel the love and admiration for her and her creative collaborators. Where will they go next? I can’t wait to find out.