Patrick Centre

Birmingham Hippodrome


As part of Birmingham’s Fierce Festival, Michele Rizzo’s Higher arrives for its UK premier. The festival is a celebration of live art hosted in Birmingham and presents all art platforms.

DanceXchange is a highly anticipated event within Birmingham and aims to promote dance for all audiences. Within this, Higher is a dance performance that encapsulates the motifs of both Fierce and DanceXchange.

It is a piece primarily about clubbing. Whilst dance is the focal point of the performance, choreographer and dancer Rizzo produces the inner feeling of the impact of music, going out that lead to the expressions that take us late into the night.

This performance has the power to be interpreted in many ways. It gives the feeling that clubbing is different for everyone, even if the evening may still be the same. The story presents a lapse of time over the course of one night, starting with an atmospheric build up at the beginning of an evening that goes into the euphoria of being in the late hours, until the new day comes and the momentum is slowly bought to an ending.

It is a showcase of the rituals that make us become entwined with the world that presents itself so fiercely when clubbing. In this, Rizzo is able to show the exact time in which art encapsulates us and we become one. In this case, the dancers feel an intense pull towards the music in the club and little by little, it builds up to a euphoric sequence perfectly that shows the dancers perfectly in time with each other.

The performance takes a slow start that says that it takes time and energy for life’s full passions to overtake us. The lighting display, also designed by Rizzo, is a beautiful step into the atmosphere of the nightly underworld fuelled by physicality. Bulbs at the back wall light up and descend one by one until the dancers move into the space that leads to a gradual build up until we are put into a trance powered by art.

Lorenzo Senni’s music provides the backdrop to the controlled, but fast sequences. Much to the likeliness of the dancer’s personalities, Senni provides a feeling that takes us straight into the night. It has a pulsating beat and the dancers follow freely to the beating rhythm that slowly picks up to a fast-paced level and into the height of the evening.

We see each dancer perform the same sequence in perfect unison throughout the performance. It is their style and interpretation of the techno-beating music that sets each performer apart. Michele Rizzo himself is a performer within the piece, dancing with Juan Pablo Camara and Max Goran. The repetitive nature of the sequence builds up in tempo as the performance builds to a climax. It is symbolic that many people perform the same ritual of clubbing week after week in order to feel the euphoria within.

It is an interesting interpretation of a somewhat usual event in many people’s lives. Rizzo however presents a deeper meaning what, some might see as merely having a good time. This performance is ritual and lends into the idea that art and music are within us. We do not create, but exist together with art. It is something that is all around us and the performance shows how our souls have the power to connect so closely to it.

Elizabeth Halpin


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