I didn’t know what to expect when entering the spacious, socially distanced seating area for Dancing in the Streets, but when I heard the patter of bare feet as Janice approached the front of the hall, I knew I was in for a different type of show. I prepared myself for something other than the usual performance or stage play I was used to seeing, sat back and opened my mind to the curious concept behind Janice Parker’s performance.
The show opened with a softly spoken introduction, interspersed with dance breaks; Janice morphing her body into any shape that took hold of her in the moment. An extremely captivating opening few minutes prepares the audience for the main event; this being a film, projected on a vast screen, containing edited together clips that Janice had recorded during lockdown.
The film’s main theme being a love of nature, and its aim being to encourage others to take time to appreciate it more in their day-to-day lives, made it quite thought provoking. Janice run’s, prances, and rolls around the mucky, harsh terrain of Holyrood Park with an admirable lack of self-consciousness, something she encourages everyone to try at least once. We start in the early days of Scotland’s autumn as we see her running around trees. The film cuts to the white snows of December as our main character runs right across frame. A giggle or two is let out by the audience as we share Janice’s glee as she punches and kicks the air in an empty December Forest. The whole experience felt a little like a dream; unpredictable and bizarre, but in a good way.
Something must be said for the cinematography used in the film. Janice may have just been filming herself to post videos on Twitter at first, but there are some gorgeous shots of Edinburgh’s countryside on display here. The screen is split into three, showing different videos in each slot, often of the same location. Janice manages to keep one clear horizon line running across all three screens, making each video feel like a time lapse of the same woman in the same area. All of this keeps the film engaging and visually pleasing for the audience. However, after about 10 minutes the film become a little predictable. We know that after a while we will cut to Janice somewhere else, doing another dance at a different time.
Dispersed among the arraying videos in the countryside is a voice-over of Janice discussing the benefits these daily excursions had on her and the feelings or emotions she had while out there. This would have been a welcome addition, but the audio quality however was distracting from the visual content and was almost grainy to the ear by the end. Once we get into springtime of the film it feels like we have been watching much of the same for a while, and with enough close-up shots of Janice’s bare feet to make you wander if Tarantino’s name will pop up in the credits, the film seems to go on just a little too long.
Overall, Janice Parker’s Dancing in the Streets has a misleading name, is well shot, with a great message of respecting Mother Nature at its heart, but ultimately the audience could have saved themselves the money and the journey by simply just finding the same videos on Janice’s Twitter Page.