Candoco Dance Company review – compelling document of human possibilities

It’s always great to witness the buzz that choreographers get from working with Candoco. Throughout the company’s 27-year history there’s rarely been a work in which its mix of disabled and non-disabled dancers has felt like a limitation. On the contrary, each new commission seems to revel in showboating the particular range of skills, stories and bodies these dancers bring to the stage.

In his gabbily mischievous Let’s Talk About Dis, Hetain Patel unleashes the company’s collective voice in a discussion of how they deal with the bogeymen of political correctness and prejudice. Righteously angry Laura Patay complains (in French) about the people who gawk at the stump of her left arm. Squirmingly euphemistic Toke Broni Strandby tries to pretend that the only physical difference between the Candoco dancers lies in their heights. Megan Armishaw mildly points out that as a non-disabled dancer she rarely gets to feature on the company’s poster; Joel Brown retorts that he’s not on it, even though he’s paralysed from the chest down.

Flamboyant … Candoco perform Face In by Yasmeen Godder. Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian

While Patel elicits verbal comedy from his dancers’ experiences, Yasmeen Godder makes flamboyant choreographic capital out of their bodies. In her raucous, challenging and tender work Face In she sets wheelchair user Joel Brown on a recklessly spinning, tilting course around the stage, while Mickaella Dantas bourrées with skittering grace on her one foot and two crutches. Most impressive is the dancers’ blithe indifference to amputated or paralysed limbs as they furiously ride on each other’s backs, wrestle and embrace. Structurally the work may feel too much like a scattershot of effects, but as a document of human possibilities it’s compelling to watch.

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