Sandwiched between the beachfront Sea Life centre and a giant funfair ride, Stopgap Dance Company’s The Seafarers managed to hold its own ground. Originally made in 2015 for the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, the open-air piece was revived by the Norfolk and Norwich festival for the marine parade at Great Yarmouth, again connecting to a local maritime history on which the tide has now turned.
The performance opened and closed conventionally enough, with formation numbers in which the dancers – 50 of them altogether, including groups from local schools alongside Stopgap’s own company of variously abled performers – executed upbeat, four-square sequences to up-tempo music by the neo-folk band Moulettes. Between these solidly choreographed slabs came a more poetic filling: a woman in a wheelchair winched on a rope like a hooked sea creature; a merry jig turned woozy as the dancers careened and lurched, as if losing their sea-legs to the pitch and yaw beneath their feet. And the sea itself seemed to tug at them until they stood gazing outwards, one empty wheelchair lying capsized beside them.