Dance shows can sometimes be tough for spectators to interpret, especially for those who are more used to more ‘traditional’ theatre – movement can be interpreted in countless ways, which makes dance simultaneously simpler and more complicated than straight drama. Do You Want to Live Forever? offers a happy medium between dance and theatre, though it definitely leans a little heavier in its dance elements.
A mysterious man tells us, through beautifully florid rhyming verse, of the ability to savour endless pleasures in immortal life, save for the joy of companionship, as he perpetually seeks out one with whom to spend eternity. He finds one such person in the form of a young girl whom he introduces to Maum, a goddess/life force that stresses enjoying the present and being the master of one’s own life. Things start out delightfully eccentric – the girl has a lemon, which the mysterious man helps her make into lemonade with the glass of water he happens to have in his jacket pocket – but easy to grasp. When Maum arrives in her gymnastic glory, the dancing starts in earnest – Maum twists and undulates her body in gravity-defying ways that are truly mesmerizing to watch. The girl eventually comes back as a young woman and spends more time with the immortal man, but soon faces the choice to stay with him or leave.
Not all dance shows have narratives, but this one does and it really does help the less dance-oriented audience members (myself included) to arrive at a logical interpretation of what it is they are watching. There are still differences in possible meaning, however: when he and she (as her older self) dance, they roll over each other in a way that could symbolize their being together over several cycles of time, it could suggest a sexual aspect to their relationship, or it could be that with his guidance she sees life from every possible angle. Again this show is fairly easy to follow, but be ready to consider several possibilities when deciding for yourself what happens.
The skilled performers do a wonderful job. Travis Martin is eccentric but friendly as the mysterious immortal, and the rhymes flow as mellifluously from his lips as the dance moves do from the other performers. Alya Graham is spellbinding during her appearances as Maum, and creator Allsion Elizabeth Burns as the young woman keeps pace with Graham throughout their extremely athletic duet. Even if you have no idea what on earth is going on, there’s still plenty to look at/listen to.
This thought-provoking aesthetic piece explores the deep question of how to find meaning in one’s own life no matter how long or short it is, and the choices we make that help us on our journey to figure it all out. If you’re looking to expand your horizons when it comes to types of performance, this one is prime candidate.
An allisoneb production
Created and Choregraphed by Allison Elizabeth Burns
Co-Created and Written by Travis Martin
Musical Composition by Tristan Henry, Stroboscopica, and Kayla Milmine-Abbott
Dramaturgy by Robin Toller
Performed by Allison Elizabeth Burns, Alya Graham, Travis Martin, Mary Wiggin
At Arts Court Theatre (Venue 1)
Running Time: 60 minutes
Tuesday 13 June 7:30pm
Friday 16 June 6:00pm
Saturday 17 June 9:30pm