Joy, by Joshua Monten, starts with five dancers on stage. Chicky smiles all around, the ensemble looks suspiciously at the audience, staring inside my eyes. We are off to an exciting start in this family-friendly performance.
Joy looks into the ins-and-outs of stage fighting: the ensemble stands on a straight line, punching and slapping one another, causing a beautiful ripple effect from left to right. When the punch sounds too painful they fall on the floor and as punishment, they have to do a few push-ups. The comedy starts from the outset and between loud falls and hard punches the audience laughs out loud.
It seems to particularly resonate with younger audiences: to my left, a 6-year-old progressively changes his mind about the fights, what seems to start as a real fist-fight slowly turns into a reveal of stage tactics and choreographed falls. His attention pushes him to the edge of his seat.
Joshua Monten contextualizes these choreographed fights with classical music, sometimes it feels too much of the same sort of sounds, but the younger audiences seem to relate well to the choreography on stage.
Part-comedy, part-fight this 60-minute dance piece is a real treat for all the ones curious about stage fights, stunts, and acrobatics. The dancers are masters of their techniques: with contemporary dance, they manipulate and slide of a high wooden table, they are also boxing with red gloves on top of it and take leps and forwards-roll straight to the floor. There are many ballet references used to create comedy. In a line, one dancer at the time jeté and slaps a female dancer, punctuating the high points of a classic song, she turns from right to left in a panic, but the slapping seems no to end. It’s a contagious laugh.