Donald Trump famously labelled his ‘grab them by the pussy’ remarks ‘locker room talk’. Argentinian dance project Un Poyo Rojo, however, suggests that south of the border (or ‘wall’ as the President would have it), men are capable of conducting themselves rather differently in changing rooms. Whether gently kicking off proceedings with a downward-facing dog or recreating the elegant collapse of a Swan Lake lead, Alfonso Barón and Luciano Rosso categorically prove that deconstructing gender norms can actually be, you know, fun (no offence Gender Studies departments, but there are more laughs in the first 10 minutes of this show than in three years of academic slog).
Along with the yoga stretches and the classic ballet choreography, we also get vintage vogueing, a few hip-hop moves and a skit with a mouthful of cigarettes that has Barón looking like a lip-syncing Dr Zoidberg. At one point, the dancers swoop across the space like giant birds of prey, but with a gentle playfulness that recalls the moment in H is for Hawk when Helen Macdonald discovers Mabel the goshawk is capable of playing games with a tiny ball of paper. This beast of the animal world is, she discovers, able to be cute and mischievous once a strong enough connection is formed with another creature. Behaviour, even for hawks, isn’t entirely pre-determined by biology and nature.
It’s this combination of silliness and lovingness that underlines Un Poyo Rojo. For every childish “anything you can do I can do better’ piece of mimicry, there’s another where every touch shared by the characters (I use ‘characters’ because the work is not, as Rosso later explains, autobiographical) vibrates with sexual tension. Un Poyo Rojo is a hugely enjoyable and, at times, hilarious work, but it’s also one that still foregrounds the beauty and precision of the dancers’ technique and movements.
The other thing worth knowing about Un Poyo Rojo – and this isn’t a spoiler, it’s just highlighting possibly the most impressive part of all – is that a large chunk of it is performed to live radio. In practice, this means that significant sections of the show are, to a degree, improvised according to what the analogue signal picks up whilst being tuned and un-tuned. On the night where I watched it, this basic concept was impossible to detect (I had assumed the whole thing was extremely neatly mimed to a pre-recording). Despite its joyful and flirtatious exterior, the expertise involved in performing it is considerable. Because, of course, when you’ve really got the skills you don’t need to boast.
Un Poyo Rojo is on until 27 August 2017 at Dance Base, as part of the Edinburgh Fringe 2017. Click here for more details.