Lydia Spencer-Elliot reviews James Cousins company ‘We Are Gods’ most recent performance at Battersea Arts Centre.
Walking into We Are As Gods feels somewhere between stepping into an acid warehouse rave and the lair of The Weeping Angels from Doctor Who. Performers from the James Cousin’s Company are draped over banisters and stairways at Battersea Arts Centre with glaring gazes in minor contortions ahead of their interactive dance performance.
Dressed in tulle, a group of 70 performers guide you through the listed building’s Victorian Grand Hall, the rain-soaked steel rooftop, and a series of secret stairways. Decorated straight from a millennial Instagram user’s fantasy, the set design features neon pink sculptures, countless balloons, and mesmerising light installations.
‘This is a safe space,’ the tannoy soothingly reassures as you follow the dancers around what could be mistaken for a glitzy version of the London Dungeons. But as the contemporary choreography pulsates into action your nerves relax into awe at the group’s undeniable talent.
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The style of the movements themselves is so varied from room to room it would be remiss to try and capture them all in a short paragraph. There are powerful writhing contemporary duets, upbeat group performances with hints of commercial, nods to ballroom, and even contortion.
‘We are as gods and might as well get good at it,’ is the quote from the environmentalist Stewart Brand that lends itself to the show’s name. As such, the surreal two-hour immersion into flashing lights, smoke, and silhouettes aims to draw on themes of human connection and our responsibility to “rebuild our world better”.
Yet, amidst the thumping music and dimly glowing bulbs of the eerie choreographed tour, you’d be forgiven for forgetting our world altogether. From the moment you enter James Cousin’s funhouse of fantasy and vibrance, you are through the looking glass into rhythmic escapism.
Culminating in a euphoric after-party hosted by South London DJ GAIKA, the night then clatters back down to earth as you head back onto the city’s streets only to wonder when you can descend from reality and visit the secret world of colour, movement, and madness again.
We Are As Gods at Battersea Art Centre from 6th to 10th October as part of BAC’s overcome autumn season, where every ticket is priced as Pay What You Can.