By Cammie Finch, Vermont College of Fine Arts
A preview of Candoco, performing on the Flynn Main Stage on Friday, February 22.
Candoco Dance Company is doing something amazing for the dance world. The UK-based troupe has been traveling the globe, challenging and changing people’s view of what dance is and who can dance. And on Friday, February 22, Candoco is coming to the Flynn to push the boundaries of our perception.
The contemporary dance company was founded by Celeste Dandekar, a dancer herself. While performing onstage many years ago, Dandekar suffered a fall which resulted in a paralyzing spinal injury. Yet, the resilient and passionate dancer wondered why a wheelchair should prevent her from continuing to do what she loved most. In 1991, Dandekar met Adam Benjamin, and together they began teaching a class integrating both disabled and non-disabled dancers. This soon grew into Candoco, which would go on to win many awards and become world-renowned. Their initial mission still rings true today: to bring artists of different abilities, perspectives, and experiences together in order to enrich dance for all.
Candoco’s upcoming performance is a double bill, featuring two works by world-class choreographers. The first, Let’s Talk About Dis (choreographed by Hetain Patel), is an intimate piece that explores the dancers’ distinctive bodies and identities. The second, Face In (choreographed by Yasmeen Godder), is a “sensual ode to intimacy and imagination, expressed through uninhabited dance.” I’m looking forward to both pieces, which will surely serve up opportunities for contemplation and reflection on a myriad of social issues.
As I familiarized myself with the troupe by watching video after video on Candoco’s Youtube channel, awe-struck at the dancers’ strength and grace, I shamefully realized I had my own biases about what kind of bodies I thought “could dance.” After watching just one Candoco performance, those biases were immediately stripped down. Candoco showed me you don’t need arms to dance; you don’t need legs; you don’t have to speak any certain language; you don’t have to look like anyone besides yourself. All you need is a heart and the desire to let the music move you. Indeed, every body has the power to be moved.
Are you ready to be moved by Candoco and their vibrant spirit on February 22?