22 February 2013, 10am–8pm
Ladies and Gentleman, How Long Will They Last? is a metaphor for the journey of husband and wife through the most trying period of their lives; a manifestation of the sheer exhaustion they endured, together with their uncompromising resilience and fortitude.
The commission – comprised of performance, sound and spectacle – saw a couple dancing over a ten-hour period, Physically and emotionally holding each other up, a metaphor for the grueling strains of the cancer and its and treatment.
Onlookers were only permitted into the space for the last hour as the dancers are agonizingly tired. Their focus is immediately drawn to the moving couple in an incongruous desire to glimpse their downfall whilst encourage their success.
During this final hour the slow, hypnotic moves of the dancers, and the sonic repetition of “Ladies And Gentlemen, How Long Will They Last?” shifts from question to mantra, holding the performers under the audience’s scrutiny but then slowly dissolving through the manipulation by the artist’s hand. It is here that the breakdown and transformation of the work really begins.
Towards the end of the piece, the introduction of a handmade synthesiser brings into the space further granulated, organic noises followed by the onset of the horn section and finally chanting voices. The audience begins to sense the disquiet, the pain and intensity experienced by the dancers. Will they look away, or will they join in the chant?
Whilst Ladies and Gentleman, How Long Will They Last? has a very personal significance to the artist, it also embodies the personal struggles in the epic and beautiful battle of life that are familiar to everyone.
Justin Wiggan is an artist who works across sound, visual media and the written word. This new commission, ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, How Long Will They Last?” is a timely, thought provoking work informed by the acts of endurance lived through by people through our society everyday – often silently, invisibly.
The performers are British dancer/choreographer Rosie Kay and Brazilian dancer Guilherme Miotto, who first collaborated in 2005, with the acclaimed ‘Asylum’ for Edinburgh Festival, DanceXchange and Dance Umbrella. The soundscape was created by Justin Wiggan in collaboration with Louis Robinson and his horn Group. The choir is led by Clare Edwards, music director for Birmingham choir Notorious.