At the end of A Chorus Line, arguably the most famous musical about dancers ever written, the entire company comes into a line and moves in perfect unison as one. Each dancer becomes indistinguishable and everything that makes them unique is lost.
The dance world seems to be all about uniformity, from ballet choruses through to contemporary dance companies. But what about the performers who don’t fit the chorus line? Variant is all about those individual dancers who break the mould – the square pegs in the round holes.
It’s a bright, funny and often touching look at what makes us different and the way we can struggle to embrace that difference. The dancers cover the spectrum of body shapes and sizes from Kiruna Stamell at 106cm through to James Berlyn at 6 foot 5, celebrating the variation of the human form. When Stamell and Berlyn dance together, it’s a spectacular sight.
Sue Healey’s choreography is beautifully nuanced, energetic and eclectic, drawing influences from contemporary dance, cabaret and tap. The stories of the characters in the piece are told so vividly through dance and brought to life by a cast of uniquely talented performers.
But Variant is about so much more than dance. The movement is just part of a rich and quirky theatrical experience that includes live piano, accordion and vocals by Pat H Wilson and some hilarious pre-recorded narration by Brian Carbee. The eclectic original soundtrack sounds wonderfully energetic and the intimate Reginald Theatre has never looked better than it does with a stunning design by Tobhiyah Feller and lighting by Jenny Vila.
Variant tackles some pretty serious themes with a healthy dose of humour and ingenuity. It’s a remarkably human show, shining a light on individual personalities and challenging perceptions in a way that most dance companies could never achieve.