Beheld by Alexander Whitley. Photography by Hugo Glendinning, 2015

CANDOCO was a dance piece with two halves. The first was a dance piece, the second more comical.

In the first piece, I particularly liked when Tanja did her solo against the backdrop with others holding her hands. When she touched the backdrop, the areas lit up as she connected with the other dancers, it gave a sense of unity.

When they danced as a group with the fabric, there was a sense of freedom. For me, it portrayed freedom from emotional and mental struggles.

I liked how the wheelchair became intertwined with the fabric; it made me think about the current struggles in this country and in Europe.

It was quite expressive when they did their duets because you could tell that they were focusing on achievements rather than their disabilities. When someone who had the use of their legs did a duet with Joel, Joel used his arms to prove that you can find substitutes in life and nothing needs to get in your way.

I really enjoyed meeting the dancers beforehand. I met a lady called Caroline who gave me a mini tour and spoke to me about the company. She was incredibly talkative but very nice. It was very interesting to talk to somebody within the arts and to learn about her background in audio transcribing. It was good to see how the creative arts use her in their work to make things even more accessible.  I went onto the stage and was able to ask them questions. We asked them what they do before a performance to get their energies going. They said they stand in a circle before each performance and do an energising chant to help focus themselves and raise the whole group’s energies.

The second half was called ‘Let’s talk about ‘dis’ (as in disability) – they spoke about how it can be hard to be accepted and they just want to be seen as normal in society. They used their bodies to speak about their disabilities, yet talked about how some people are white, some black, some gay, some straight and some tall, some short. They made the audience laugh. There was a sense of live and let live. There’s still a sense in our society of not allowing us to be who we want to be without ‘labelling us’ due to our sexuality / disability etc.  It was good and it was funny. It was interesting how they got up in twos and expressed themselves. It was funny how Jason was using sign language. In the line up with Toke and Megan, who don’t have the use of their left arms past their elbow, he stopped using his left arm when signing which Toke made a joke about.

I personally found it hard how they avoided the subject of being disabled. I didn’t like how they didn’t talk about it, but obviously that’s how they wanted to portray themselves.

Overall, I haven’t seen a dance piece for quite in a while, especially disabled dancers, and so I really enjoyed seeing it. The whole evening had a nice energy about it.

Matthew Hellett