A luminous playground of dance, gymnastics and optical illusion.
Diana Clarke
Published on May 09, 2014


Remember how awesome Spongebob was? And Jimmy Neutron? And CatDog? Well turns out they were all written by the same guy. Steven Banks. What a legend. And now he has gone and out-awesomed himself again. I hate to break it to your ten year old selves, but this time, he has strayed from Nikelodeon and cartoons, and instead of working on kids shows, he has gone and written a dance production. You might be feeling slightly resentful towards Banks for destroying your dreams of a Spongebob comeback season, but reserve judgement until you watch this. Turns out, the guy is potentially even better at writing dance productions than scripting shows about sponges and starfish and genius kids and siamese twin domesticated animals.

Shadowland, Banks’ latest endeavour, is a collaboration with Pilobolus. The American modern dance company started up in 1971, and has performed over 100 choreographed works in over 64 countries. The company’s trademark is their strong element of physical interaction between numerous dancers, and the exaggerated contortions of human form. Shadowland proves to be no exception. The company’s knack for using anthropomorphic form to create bizarre imagery and even play with optical illusion is delivered in the production, where dancers seemingly morph into animals, giants and even objects as obscure as motorcycles. The illusion of transformation into these impossible forms is made possible through the use of shadow. Audiences watch the silhouettes of dancers, who use trick lighting and complex movements to deceive audiences' eyes and create unbelievable images.

Shadowland tells the story of a young girl who dreams of independence. Through a luminous playground of dance, gymnastics and optical illusion we follow the girl as she discovers her shadow and journeys into the Shadowland, where she meets numerous interesting creatures. The entire story is enacted by performing shadow theatre, danced to the beats of successful American composer, David Poe. Poe has toured the world with countless musicians, including Bob Dylan, so you know he must be good.

A creative collaboration by three talented components, Shadowland has got to be worth the watch. When you combine the guy who made Spongebob, the guy who played for Dylan, and the group who broke the world record for fitting the most humans into a Mini Cooper, something amazing has got to happen. And Shadowland is that something.


Tap and select Add to Home Screen to access Concrete Playground easily next time. x