'Kiss & Cry' – Charleroi Danses

In 'Kiss & Cry', award-winning film director Jaco Van Dormael and choreographer Michèle Anne De Mey create an intricate blend of moving hands, miniature animation, soft-toned reminiscence and film techniques, which together evoke the melancholy of love. The resulting ballet of hands is must-see theatre.

The action is projected onto a screen from stations dotted around the stage. One of these is a miniature London train station where an old lady sitting on a bench recollects her five lost loves. A miniature train running round and round on the track marks the passing of time. Gisèle's first love is the one who touched her most deeply, a boy she met on a crowded train when she was twelve. But she remembers only his hand, which touched hers for all of thirteen seconds.

Cameras on stage capture the metamorphoses of the hands of dancers De Mey and Gregory Grosjean. Their sensual and humorous dance of hands is created against a static backdrop of miniature people, houses, cars and trees, all magnified and projected onto the screen. The cinematography is carefully measured and executed with precision. Most of the operations are exposed to the audience live.

We use our hands for most of our day-to-day activities, but they are overly familiar to us and it's easy to forget how much potential they have for expression. 'Kiss & Cry' plays on the familiar that is at once strange, or what Freud called the uncanny. The story of lost love narrated with a voice of calm melancholy is familiar from chick lit. Music is also familiar with tunes by Handel, Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky and Gershwin we have heard before, somewhere. We witness the visualisation of familiar metaphors – for example, memory as deep in water – made strange through their embodiment in hands.

Gisèle's lovers each fall into a hole in a white sand beach when the affair ends, recessing deep into her memory. But at the performance's end her first love re-emerges whole and 'Kiss & Cry' concludes with the lovers dancing with their whole bodies, caressing and holding each other. 


'Kiss & Cry'
Charleroi Danses
Brought to the Barbican by the London International Mime Festival 


"This ballet of hands is must-see theatre."

Additional Info

We watched this performance at the Barbican, London.