‘S’ (Issue 864)

In which we are reminded to design sales presentations so they’re easily understood and useful.

I’ve just come home from Boston’s Shubert Theater;  I saw “S”, a circus-theater-dance creation offered by the Circa Ensemble, based in Brisbane, Australia.

Sarah Navin, reviewing the piece, wrote “…a superb fusion of dance and circus, full of endless surprises and astonishing feats… [S]inuous, seductive, sophisticated, sensual and savage, ‘S’ is inspired by the shape of the letter and its uses in plural form…. Associate Director Ben Knapton said…“It was our dream to work with complex acrobatic languages and movement sequences”….as the curves of the letter ‘S’ inspire the series of twisted movements, continuous flips and twirled throws with the dramatic tunes of the Kronos Quartet to accompany.”

Except… I didn’t get it.  Where the  “S” showed up, I mean.

I agree with Navin: “‘S’ is a spectacular display of strength demonstrating what the human body is capable of with years of technical training. It showcases exemplary teamwork as…dancers push their bodies to their utmost limits and seamlessly recover from being tossed through the air, transitioning fluidly with energy and agility into another beautiful shape.”

And I didn’t get it – the “complex acrobatic languages and movement sequences,” the inspiration of the letter ‘S’.  I was ‘wowed’ by what I saw and I didn’t see the connection to ‘S’, the point of the production.

One of the troupe, speaking after the performance, explained one origin of the idea: “An ‘S’ is a straight line with a couple of bits pushed out.”   That single sentence made sense to me – the program was a meditation on evolving shapes: Lines and sequences with bits pushed out.

I’ve seen (and created and participated in) presentations like ‘S’ –  sophisticated, using complex languages demonstrating years of technical training and exemplary teamwork. And, while they may produce gasps of delight and wonder,  they’re not helpful if presentation recipients can’t grasp the one or two central ideas and do something different.

[Bits of “S” in a random sequence here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtvZIaQ64rw ]

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