The Londonist Culture Crawl started in Canary Wharf for the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival - and we knew it was going to be colourful the second we emerged from the cool grey steel-toned enclosure of Canary Wharf station and were confronted with the gigantic orange inflatable set for Candoco Dance Company's Minotoria. Blinking and scratching our heads, we watched as the company's able and disable-bodied performers moved around to a growling, bass-heavy soundtrack in costumes and on a set that recalled shellfish and prehistoric life.
Next, we went to the most curious setting of the festival performances, the East Winter Garden, an empty atrium space of a nearby office building. Crowds squeezed in for the aerial performance which looked set to be amazing with two performers dangling two storeys above us, swaying gently on their wires. However, we left before it finished as the performers swooped from floor to ceiling and flew around so rapidly, playing out a faintly recognisable relationship against gravity, that we couldn't keep up and missed most of the action simply because of the crowds. So we headed out for the next performance on the schedule...
... and had a much more comfortable time with a moving piece of solo aerial work in Westferry Circus. Babies, dogs, cuddling young couples and old folks having a sit-down joined in the festival crowd's applause and anticipation for the performance. The acrobatic skill and accompanying emotive Palestinian torchsong was a still point, a moment of reflection in an otherwise packed schedule of frantic activity and festival mayhem. Most delightful of all the festival performances was the colourful and playful Strange Fruit show which was basically a bunch of people on bendy poles just messing about to music.
Clown-like performers strapped to tall, bendy rubber poles played out comic scenes of resisting and then giving in to one another, swaying to and from one another and sometimes swooping into the audience to make the children yelp with fright and excitement. They looked amazing on their poles, bobbing about so high off the ground to an excellent soundtrack and the many, many people gathered for the final piece of the Dancing City part of the Greenwich and Docklands Festival all left with a smile on their faces.
Finally, last stop on the Culture Crawl was to Trafalgar Square for one last blast of sunburn and outdoor oddity. What greeted us here was a beast that we are sure the noble, solid, static lions of Trafalgar Square disapproved of enormously: the Strandbeesten were rickety, spindly, plastic looking piles of weirdness. And then they moved...
We stifled one last overexcited shriek as the Strandbeesten scuttled way too quickly towards us and turned around to go home. Culture well and truly crawled this weekend.
With thanks to Londonist Mike for the YouTube clip.