How ‘Message In A Bottle’ proves you can be an incredible dancer with the body you have (not the body you think you should have)

Hi dancers! So sorry about the lack of posts over the last couple of weeks. I have been dealing with the loss of one of my teachers and it has been a difficult time. I will write about this in a little more detail eventually, but not yet. In the meantime, though, I’m happy to get back to some writing!

This Tuesday, I was very fortunate to attend a performance of Message in A Bottle at The Peacock Theatre (Sadlers Wells’ sister venue in the West End). There’s been a lot of hype about this show here in London, so I was really keen to check it out for myself.

Message In A Bottle is a piece that takes on the very real issue of the current refugee crisis. It’s a deep subject matter, and it depicts this by following the fictional narrative of a family and their community. What makes this piece very different is that instead of using a traditional composed dance score, it is set to the music of Sting. This might sound at odds with the theme, but it works so well in helping the narrative along. This piece takes you on a real journey with the characters, who might be fictional but the hardships they face are those being faced by real refugees right now, every day.

The creative force behind this show is director-choreographer Kate Prince, and the company ZooNation, incorporating a cast of dancers bursting with talent, including Lukas McFarlane who was also the assistant choreographer in this project. Something that seemed important to me is that Message In A Bottle features a beautifully diverse cast of dancers. All sorts of shapes, sizes, colours and configurations are on the stage together. It’s even nice to see things like different hairstyles represented on stage: each dancer’s individuality is allowed to shine through, and the choreography allows them to show their unique strengths. Yet, these dancers had one thing in common: they were all AMAZING! Every single dancer in this cast seemed to be able to take on any kind of movement, and a diverse selection was on offer in this piece, with hip-hop merging into contemporary dance, and some lyrical and acrobatic influences, too. They performed with incredible skill and mastery. I will say that there was some over-acting going on which took away from the sincerity of the narrative a little at times. However the dancing makes up for this.

Best bows sequence ever?!

As a white, able-bodied, slightly taller than average  woman, it isn’t hard to find people like me represented on stage. Others aren’t so lucky. They see dancers on stage who all look exactly the same, and wonder where there could possibly be a place for them. Even myself, I’m often led to feel that I am not thin enough to be a professional dancer. However I recognised people with bodies much more like mine on the stage, and that was powerfully inspiring. It showed me that the idea that I need to be thinner to be an excellent dancer really is a myth, because here were these strong, fit women doing amazing things and captivating an audience. And you don’t need to be taller, shorter, whiter, more muscular, more able-bodied or less visibly different either. There were so many different types of dancers represented in this cast and I think every dancer should watch this performance just so that they can really understand, yes, you can be an amazing dancer. Exactly as you are. Representation matters, and Message In A Bottle does it so beautifully.

This is why I’m strongly recommending that you go to catch a performance while it’s still on (and before Coronavirus shuts down all of the theatres!). It will entertain you, it will open your eyes in a new way to the plight of refugees that’s happening right now, it will give you hope, it will show you what amazing dancers can look like, and it will definitely get some catchy music stuck in your head!

Message In A Bottle is on for just a little longer, until 21st March, at The Peacock in Holborn, so get your tickets now by clicking HERE.

Please do comment below, I love to hear from you, especially if you’ve seen this work or if something here sparks interest or inspiration for you.

Until next time,

Jessica x

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