Empire building at New Theatre Royal
But artistic director Zoie Golding has built her career on such foundations.
The founder of ZoieLogic Dance Theatre has spent the past 16 years working with male dancers to challenge opinions of male culture in the public eye. Safe features five male dancers recreating the construction of The Empire State Building in New York.
Zoie became fascinated after seeing a documentary about the men who built the Empire State Building: ‘I was just intrigued by the risks they took with so effortlessly, and the beauty in this masculinity.
‘I started to dig a little bit more about how these guys had to work together.
‘They worked in five-man teams called rising gangs, which is why there’s five in the cast, and they were the fundamental reason the building rose so fast because they were able to work in this rhythm to a) survive and b) work as a team to keep going at speed – but they were doing this with no harnesses, there was nothing.’
To a musical backdrop that takes in drum and bass and swing, the dancers build the set around them as the show progresses.
‘These guys build the set in the show – from floor to ceiling with scaff boards and the truss and their bare hands. There is no safety mechanism, they have to make sure the environment is right for them. I create that quite cinematically, because I like to create pieces for people who don’t necessarily go to the theatre often as well as those who do, and focussing on engaging males. It tells a tale of camaraderie, brotherhood, hope, optimism, all set in this world.’
And to make sure it is as convincing as possible, Zoie pushed the dancers – and the production team.
‘We’ve got a really great production manager and we worked out what the parameters were for the health and safety guidelines and we pushed right to them,’ she says.
‘There’s a truss that rises and that lifts up during the show, and we try really hard aesthetically to give the illusion of height.’
‘It’s got very hi-tech production values – we’re really pushing the boundaries of dance.’
New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth
Tuesday, April 12