The heightened physical nature of Goat Island’s work and it’s ambiguous formal status perturbs categorisation. It’s hard to locate this work as dance (a label the company reject), though it is certainly choreographed movement. In Earthquake, the formal status of this movement, is even further undermined by Goat Island’s explicit copying of multiple but minute sequences from the work of dance-theatre practitioner Pina Bausch. As with all of Goat Island’s copying, there is a pronounced translation into a different context and language. Perhaps the best that we can say of its physical language is that it draws on the traditions of ritual theatre, dance, ‘real-time’ action and task-based performance to create a unique synthesis of these forms. This results in a kind of faltering physicality that is poised between stasis and flow - think of those strange revolving animate tableaus, or the moments where performers get heavily stuck in the groove of a particular gesture. It’s no accident that the performers occasionally seem to be moving like puppets, or rehearsing a set of moves that they do not yet know. The movement is exposed as a repetition. We are watching them learning how to move. That the performers only ‘half-inhabit’ the movement is crucial to the work since it creates a question over the source of the movement and the performer’s volition. Their physicality seems to originate simultaneously from outside and inside the performer: from some notional instruction, pattern or plan, but also from a psychic force, which grips the performer within a repetition of a gestural form. This unresolvable ambiguity opens the question of the cause of human action, poised between interior (psychological) drives and exterior (social or cultural) determinations.
[Extract from: Writing : Coming Undone]