Lived Fiction

Visiting the Brighton Fringe before heading out on a tour of the UK is Stopgap Dance Company, a group made up of deaf, disabled, neurodivergent and non-disabled creatives who all had a hand in creating this masterful piece.

As we enter the auditorium a voice, we later come to learn this is DAN a previous member of the troupe, explains what is in store for us over the course of the evening.  The voice explains that the performance will be live audio described as well as captioned and that all performances are relaxed with the audience welcome to leave and re-enter the auditorium as needed. As the audience enters, the six dancers map out the stage, performing a motif of lengths and stretches.  This eases the audience into the performance and makes you feel included from the very beginning.

The piece is broken up into several sections, each with their own theme and style. We begin with an introduction to each dancer, their voices echoing out as they self-describe their looks and their costumes. We are then introduced to Lily, they are the live audio describer and sat at a desk for most of the performance. Lily’s words are like poetry, beautifully enhancing the movements taking place before us.

The first dance together is 'The Soft Shoe Shuffle' and this shows us the beautiful harmony between all the dancers. The movements are slow and intentional, it feels as though they are all waking up from a slumber and engaging with their bodies for the first time. It is a brilliant use of space and levels with your eye being drawn between each performer at different times.

As we move through the different motifs we move from loud, bright pieces until we arrive at a duet performed by Nadenh Poan and Emily Lue-Fong. Nadenh is strapped into his wheelchair and he tells us this is so he and it can move as one. Nadenh shows incredible strength often lifting the chair above his head and showing the fluidity between him and this extension of himself. Emily is a standing dancer who moves with a light grace around the stage. There is a chemistry between the dancers which Lily describes with perfect intensity. This duet is full of passion and intimacy, you are drawn into their world as they move as one telling their story. The dance is impactful and perfectly takes us to the interval, leaving us with time to think about it and let it settle.

The second act opens with a loud high energy performance from the three male dancers, Christian Brinklow, Jannick Moth and Nadenh. They playfully dance around the space together, the piece has a feeling of joy and friendship as they move together and apart at times.

The most impactful part of act 2 comes in ‘I’m In a Room’ which is a spoken solo from Hannah. Hannah opens up to the audience and shares her experience of dancing and how it fuels her and her choices. This is a wonderful opportunity for some reflection from the audience, giving us the opportunity to consider how we maybe judge before we see the skill and how important it can be to show up authentically as ourselves.

The only issue at points in the piece was that at times, the captions were not clear enough to read or keep up with. In the faster sections they used visual effects on the captions to mirror the jarring jagged movement which although a nice creative choice, may impact on any audience member needing them actually being able to read them and understand.

This is an incredibly piece and one that I would highly recommend to anyone looking to discover new things. It is powerful, impactful and thought provoking whilst remaining fun and upbeat.

This show was reviewed on the 14th May 2024 at the Brighton Fringe.  For more information on Stopgap Dance Company visit: Stopgap – Dance Company (

Review written by Rosie Browne


Photo credit: Chris Parkes

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