‘Something in the air’ with dance/theatre show Chemistry

THE INTRIGUINGLY named 50% Male Experimental Theatre ensemble makes its first visit to Galway next week with acclaimed dance/physical theatre production, Chemistry.

Based in Dublin, 50% Male Experimental Theatre is a performance group comprising performers from Poland, Ireland, and Uzbekistan. 50% Male presents a unique combination of physical theatre and contemporary dance. Since the company’s foundation four years ago, it has successfully presented three shows: Peter Pans (2009 ); Seekers (2011 ); and Chemistry at last year’s Dublin Fringe Festival.

Ahead of her company’s maiden voyage west of the Shannon, Anna Gaciarz, who directs and choreographs Chemistry, talked about the group’s work, beginning with an account of how it originally came together.

“It all began in February 2009, in Dublin based D-Light Studios,” she tells me. “I’m a founding member of the group. I was also an artistic director of VOGUE Dance Company in Poland before I moved to Ireland. After taking a career-break from choreographing and dancing, I finally decided to create a new performance – a tale about a Peter Pan’s syndrome.

“I invited to the project three male friends who have never danced before, but their personalities were just perfect for the Peter Pans characters. After a couple of months of intense rehearsals, the boys became very familiar with a physical theatre and contemporary dance techniques. When the first part of the show was created, I decided to also invite to the collaboration professional female dancers. In November 2009, the first performance by 50% Male Experimental Theatre called Peter Pans was premiered at Dublin’s D-light Studios.

“We picked the name 50% Male Experimental Theatre, because it was true. There were three female and three male performers and it all started with the boys - so 50% Male. It was like one big experiment, therefore ‘Experimental Theatre’.

“After the success of Peter Pans, the company was evolving and consequently a new performance, Seekers was created. This show was premiered at the 2011 Dublin Fringe Festival and nominated for the Spirit of the Fringe Commissioning Award. The show was also presented in the Representing Ireland platform at Dublin Dance Festival in May 2012.

“Then, last September, we successfully premiered our third show - Chemistry, in the Lir Theatre as a part of the Dublin Fringe. Today we can say that 50% Male is a dance company that fuses physical theatre and contemporary dance. The company is in constant development, working on their own performance style and a way of artistic expression.

“50% Male is also a very good example how international integration works. We have members from three different countries: Poland, Ireland and Uzbekistan. We are connected thanks to amazing energy and passion for what we do.”

Gaciarz goes on to describe the ideas and themes that inform Chemistry.

“We know there is something in the air. But what is this ‘something’?” she asks. “Perhaps these things are hard to explain rationally because they relate to our feelings, instincts, emotions, and senses. Different types of chemistry can build love, jealousy, competition, fun, disappointment - the whole range of emotions. Where does this chemistry come from? Is it that important?

“The name is rather metaphorical but I’m also playing with an idea of a formula created by scientists, that would actually capture these human interactions. This is a tale told through movement, gesture and dance, wrapped in music - this is a story that questions our (ir )rationality.”

While Gaciarz does dance with her company, for Chemistry she has decided to “take a step back” and focus on the show’s direction and choreography.

There are four dancers in the production, Elena Degtyareva from Uzbekistan, Ruth Shine from Ireland, and Oscar Josephat Mienandi and Krzysztof Kminikowski from Poland. The show’s musical score is described by Gaciarz as “a collage of songs by various authors. It’s electronic, alternative, and folk music.”

Chemistry met with enthusiastic reviews, being saluted as “fun, whimsical, energetic” by TheJournal.ie and Gaciarz stresses the show is entertaining.

“I think it’s important to mention that Chemistry is a show that distances itself from that heavy subject and often tell its story with a tongue-in-cheek attitude,” she says. “It can be serious but also funny, as the whole point is to make it enjoyable for the audience.”

Chemistry is at the Town Hall Theatre on Friday May 31 at 8pm. Tickets are €13/11 and available from the Town Hall on 091 - 569777 and www.tht.ie

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