Promises of Happiness by Robert Clark at Bristol Old Vic


I never thought I would go to see a contemporary dance piece and leave with an overwhelming desire to watch Flash Dance, but that is what happened last night when I left Bristol Old Vic. Promises of Happiness explores the joyous feeling of…. joy, and our pursuit in finding it. It was sincere, heart-warming, and a whole lot of fun. I even got a hug from Janina Rajakangas – I must have looked like I needed it. (I did, best hug ever.)

This engaging quartet treated the audience not only with their beautiful performance, but with shots of whiskey and a hot cup of tea for one lucky spectator. For me, the real treat was the movement material, stunning contact sequences and partner work – delicate and fluid. Each dancer addressed the audience, sharing short intimate stories to shed light on what makes them happy, whilst also sharing our truths. We even got to participate in the performance, allowing the atmosphere in the studio to go from quiet contemplation to high-energy togetherness in one short shimmy.

This moment also confirmed what I knew all along: Everything is better with an 80’s power ballad.

This piece was entirely refreshing from some of the darker devised pieces you may see on the contemporary dance stage, whilst still being thought-provoking and engaging. The humour and liveliness added a new dimension to what was a beautiful example of bodies moving together in a space, telling an honest story.

Thank you to Robert Clark’s dancers for fulfilling your promise.

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