One of the great dance institutions in London is the Resolution season at The Place each spring – a season where many choreographers and dancers can experiment and cut their performing teeth.
There are dozens of pieces performed over the 12 January – 23 February season and we wanted to shine a light on some of them using new writers. The dance writers are actually participating in The Place’s Resolution Review programme where they see much work in rapid succession and are mentored by experienced professionals. So it’s new writers looking at new dance – and both can be raw, fascinating and sometimes exasperating!
We are running 4 reviews in this feature and another 4 will follow later in the Resolution season.
Part 1 features reviews by Stephanie Brown, Chloe Fordham, Daisy Moorcroft and Natalie Russett.
In all cases, we are running the words as received. Congratulations to the writers for getting out there and going for it. And ditto the companies, choreographers and dancers involved in Resolution 2018. Enjoy…
Daisy Moorcroft reviews…
Was 2017 truly the year of uncertainty? With many of us unsure where we stand in a seemingly unstable world, this sentiment was prevalent within the evening’s trio of works.
Tilly Lee-Kronick tackles the well-trodden theme of female objectification in her work Ripe. However, hers is a refreshingly new take. Clearly a strong and capable aerialist, her aim is not to impress us. She struggles, twists and contorts as she challenges her audience to subvert their expectations of what a beautiful young woman in a burlesque styled costume ‘should’ be expected to do. I did not expect to see a grown woman hanging by her ankles in a banana costume tonight, but I was certainly left hoping to see more of this weirdly wonderful performer.
The overwhelming pressure of appearing young and beautiful was continued by SkogDans, led by recent EDGE graduate Yasmin Lindskog. In Gravity bears the truth, the falling pendulum of a Newton’s Cradle reinforces this image of time as a prevalent concern for the ageing performer. Her dancers desperately parade the stage to the overwhelming Mozart score, more elaborate and overdramatic with each rising crescendo. We are bombarded with declarations of what is needed to be ‘enough’, as the dancers struggle to reach their own absurd expectations. Although transitioning from one section to the next certainly requires more attention, this piece holds promise.
With an incredible original music score, SENSE also seems to hint at a world of confusion and uncertainty. Inspired by The Royal National Institute of Blind People, BDblaq Dance present a work where the dancers attempt to connect with the world around them. But the result is a much more uplifting one. Performers Rikkai Scott and Ashley Goosey are exceptional, with an effortless fusion of contemporary, tap and hip hop. In a central moment, as both dancers release into freestyle, reminiscent of a club scene, it is a moment of pure enjoyment for both performer and audience, leaving us with a much- needed sense of hope.
Natalie Russett reviews…
Kinetic Being, the first of the evening, was polished and thought-provoking, albeit not perhaps, for the traditionalist audience member. Dressed (literally) head to toe in black, a single balloon attached on a string to each of the four performer’s necks, they move almost imperceptibly for the duration of the piece, the slowness sometimes punctuated by stiff falls. Their statuesque bodies draw attention to the comparatively incessant movement of the balloons. Kinetic Being delves directly into dialogue with Posthuman conceptions of the body – at once unsettling and soothing to watch these dehumanised bodies. The black silhouettes against a white backdrop is visually satisfying and accompanied sporadically by live piano, it certainly takes the audience to a surreal place.
Keep Digging was presented to us as a series of brooding, dark vignettes, each set within a confined part of the stage, highlighted by the lighting. Frustrated energy, mechanistic repetition and isolation were clear ideas in the movement – the three performers wholly embodied and expressive. The combination of multiple blackout transitions with the music gave the piece a flatness, despite the felt energy of the three dancers. The theme of being “stuck in a rut” is dealt with quite simplistically, and the final speech about reaching out to people who are struggling made it all feel a little didactic.
Matter-of-factly, two women walk onto stage for Standing Up, in their everyday clothing they look out at us pleasantly. They go and quickly return, this time in leotard and tights, Jessica Latowicki snaps the elastic of her leotard – setting the light-hearted tone. Latowicki’s role is comically down-to-earth and awkward, meanwhile I was unsure of Irene Cioni’s character. The beginning is well-paced and for me, the most humorous part. The bulk of the performance entails a piece of stand-up comedy and a parallel translation of that into movement, performed by Cioni. Expecting the boundaries of text and dance to be ‘exploded’, I found their relationship quite basic and wished for variation or switching of roles.
Stephanie Brown reviews…
Dystopia is a fearless, high-energy duet. This gender-defying, circus-dance hybrid is choreographed by Autin, who performs alongside the immensely strong, graceful Laura Vanhulle. Both dancers’ tireless lifts, acrobatic balances and the effortless throwing-catching of Vanhulle as she circumnavigates Autin’s body, are breath-taking. Starkly lit by a single bulb – fiercely contrasting powerful body work – the couple sometimes swallow each other up in athletic wrestles and urgent bids for control. But Dystopia is not all about muscle. Moments of tenderness, a joyful Celtic jig and the laid-bare finale – spot-lit hands; entwined, searching, finding – are honest reminders of our basic need for connection. A solid, captivating start to the evening.
From athleticism to hushed, mindful Tai Chi-like slowness, Orchard features Elinor Lewis, Nuria Legarda Andueza and an abundance of vertically-placed tubes. We hold our breath as the duo barely move through their fragile and unstable environment. After a seemingly endless silence – physically and audibly – they side-step, sway and shimmy, navigating their tree-scape. Despite this feat of control and balance, Orchard is slow to ripen. The somewhat predictable (albeit comical) conclusion of tube-tumbling destruction, leaves me wondering if this would sit better as part of a larger, more developed work.
A lone soldier – boots dangling from his hands – stares blankly. Strips of light reveal half-naked bodies, sometimes allowing us mere glimpses of these tortured human sculptures, shift-shaping and contorting in anguish. Barberdance’s Where is my border? is a heart-wrenching look at PTSD and effortlessly paints powerful images of trauma. Dancers drag meat-like corpses into piles, make futile attempts to reassemble limbs to non-human sounds of tearing and pulling and participate in crazed soldier selfies. As the piece develops, we witness an unrelenting disconnection from reality, as boots become mobile phones and guns, normality and trauma overlapping in disconcerting hysteria. The occasional lack of cohesion between scenes does not diminish the haunting thought-provoking choreographic imagery.
Chloe Fordham reviews…
Power, passion and pizazz combined in a true celebration of cultural identity last night at The Place. Kick-starting the (quite literal) celebrations was a melodramatic, in-your-face performance from Duckworth and Persson… Or should I say ‘Kitty Sparkles’ and co.? Offering a refreshingly light-hearted perspective on the subject of gender commodity, the duo combined gold props, ‘cheesy’ dancing, and comedic audio-visuals in a journey of self-discovery. The exuberant concoction of catwalk modelling, drag performance and self-reflexivity was rather busy in nature; however there did seem to be an underlying motif of personal acceptance. Brave enough to embrace self-satire, the pair fully embodied gender stereotypes in a comedic, yet insightful piece that reflected on the judgemental nature of modern society.
Starkly contrasting to the extravagancy of Well Lit, Fergus’ stripped-back piece was both personal and moving. In a performance clearly crafted from the heart, the solo dancer shifted in and out of the shadows, using repeated movement phrases taken from traditional hip-hop culture. A simplistic background monologue corresponded with the dancing, and what resonated with me was how the strong regional dialect added a beautiful sense of humbleness to the piece. Using pauses to great effect, Fergus allowed time for reflection on her message, which was both enriching and empowering.
Hard-hitting and raw, Malaolu’s I Can’t Breathe brought not only an end to the night, but tears to my eyes. It was clear from the start that the dancers’ connection with each other spanned far beyond the physicality of their movement. In a cleverly-constructed piece, Malaolu paid particular attention to detail through his contrasting choice of costume and effective use of lighting. Demonstrating their multi-faceted ability, the performers provided most of their own background audio; adding a personal touch to an already-compassionate piece. It was heartening to see how the remarkable technicality of their movement did not overshadow the duo’s sense of playfulness and almost-brotherly affinity. But beyond the performance itself was an indescribably warm feeling of unity between the dancers and audience. Such is the power of dance, I left feeling enlightened and strongly connected to people I didn’t even know!