In 2015, Glasgow venue The Arches was forced to cease operations when its nightclub, which had supported much of its programme, was shut down. The Take Me Somewhere festival was launched in 2017 to build on the venue’s legacies. Artistic experimentation is key and programmed pieces are categorised as ‘performance’, rather than strictly demarcated as theatre, dance or music.
Consequently, the dance artists featured in Take Me Somewhere not only work with other media, but also question the very nature of performance: why do we gather in these contexts? Could there be other reasons apart from spectatorship and spectacle? Many of the pieces presented offer different proposals for collective action and engagement, from (un)comfortable audience interaction to radical empathy and kindness.
Farah Saleh dives into the abyss into which British politics has fallen in Brexit means Brexit!. Dancers Robert Hesp and Tanja Erhart open the piece standing apart on stage, fraught. After a choreographed interlude where they tussle and pull at each other, Saleh asks the audience to come onto the stage; rather than judge, they must join in.
This movement from viewer to actor is fitting for a piece exploring a political moment that has not only exposed divisions hidden within vastly unequal living conditions and behind social media bubbles, but exacerbated them. By bringing bodies together into a space, disrupting their preferred arrangements, Saleh creates a powerful physical connection that differs sharply from the inanity of constantly updating broadcast news and personalised twitter feeds. It is powerful in principle, though in this context the audience is notably one-sided: ‘not all Brexit voters are racist’ fails to achieve genuine understanding, as it presumes the leave voter is still, nonetheless, wrong.