The ethereal Nureyev explores our deepest childhood memories with Junior Giscombe in mama used to say.

Sorrowful dance can be unbelievably heartbreaking, the visual depiction of sadness perhaps more potent even than words. Maybe a skilled dancer could pull this off; I remember the first time I saw Margot (Fonteyn – ed.), with her languid swan movements… hmm, enchanté.

In Mama used to say, Junior, however, aims not just at squeezing tears from the jaded, drug-addled audience of British Rhythm and Blues in the early eighties. He wants the infinite grey area of sadness yes, but tinged with an acceptance of it’s inevitability. Ambitious, you say, it can’t be done, I hear; well watch him!

Junior - dancing more potent than words

Junior wants his dance to convey the sorrow and pain at the death of a loved one, specifically his mother, but also the respect and happiness for everything she taught him. This he achieves through a reminiscence of his mother’s advice to a psychedelic cartoon backdrop (more on that later).

His opening moves are vibrant and light, a carefree shift, literally down memory lane, towards his childhood house. This early dance encapsulates the joy of youth, perfectly depicting the inherent exuberant nature of childhood. The audience here is unable to escape this innocent influence, drawing us into the past, into his feelings.

This bold early move is a masterstroke in engaging the audience. By appealing to the accepting inner-child, an empathetic rapport is struck up much faster.

In the first twenty seconds, your conscious thoughts may be shit! Junior Giscombe can dance!, but your subconscious is really thinking I’m completely opening up to this clearly brilliant exposition unfolding before me.

Soon we follow Junior into the memory projections of the house he grew up in. The dance now loses some pace, as memories come thick and fast. The slower moves represent the often overpowering sensation of reminiscence; the feel of a worn sofa, the smell of flowers, the sensual texture of your mother’s bed.

Junior takes us to even greater personal depths as we share a bath with him, imagining the bubbles and suds popping and fluffing against our skin. This also is a metaphor for his memories being clean, free from regrets, from the taint of later years.

But the exuberance of these scenes is reflected in equal parts by the continual returns to the outside of his old house, by the old gate. The distance created in these scenes, accompanied by his far more reserved moves, paints the sorrow that, beyond memories, there is no real going back. This depiction of his mother’s irreversible departure is heartbreaking to say the least.

He soon cycles, however, his reverence of his mother’s advice becoming inseparable from his whirling experiences as a youngster, and his renewed understanding of his mother’s advice, all fusing in a vast cornucopia of times past. His moves too unwind, becoming free, but not loose, multiplying the emotional impact of the metaphor in fantastic synergy.

Throughout, the visual aesthetic wonderfully complements both the lyrics and the dance. Lurid crayon backgrounds speak of the often bizarrely vivid memories of childhood, but with a lack of resolution in detail, described by the often sparse environments.

The overall impression is one of great sorrow, but great happiness, too. After three minutes, we have travelled far with Junior, and experienced much. It would take a cold hearted, forgetful soul indeed not to feel the quiet persistent pull of their own childhood, memories tugging away.

relativity of troubled times *sigh*

And this is Junior’s achievement. In the city, it is too easy to forget about our upbringing, the infinite subtleties of experience taught to us, not necessarily by our family, but by our loved ones. It is exactly those gifts that allow us to cope with the rushing current of city life.

In mama used to say, Junior’s dance is as much an introspection on his own happy relationship with his mother, as it is a plea to the audience not to forget the integral influences of their own past memories. I would like to personally thank Junior Giscombe for this reminder: my early living days, as everyone’s, are in the beauty of relative experience, were tough. Junior reminds us that whilst they were indeed difficult, they made us who we are.

Nureyev says…

Fault hard to find. I can hardly contain my excitement at Junior Giscombe’s eventual passing so that we can dance free from the cloying weight of mortality. Verdict: Junior Giscombe can dance better than Robert Forster. Holy Shit.

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