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.
Dozens of pieces get 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!
This is part 2 of our coverage and again presents 4 reviews. Here is part 1.
This time the reviews are by Emma Boxall, Coral Montejano Cantoral, Emma Iskowitz and Francesca Marotto.
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…
Emma Boxall reviews
Lather. Rinse. Repeat. explores the monotonous cycle we endure due to indulgence of social media. Two dancers appear from behind a piano, comically brushing their teeth wearing dressing gowns. Joined by two others they form a horizontal line across stage, sitting on chairs. Using slippers as phones they interchangeably pose for selfies, flick through Facebook and talk on the phone. Proceeding this was a somewhat out of place movement section, contrasting the pedestrian style that came before. The four then appeared under a box of light, flashing disco lights and an upbeat song accompanying them, as they joyfully jig and bop to the beat. These scenes were repeated twice with blackouts in between, leaving the audience confused about when to clap. The group’s energy dwindled as the piece progressed – symbolising the exhaustive nature of following social media. Unfortunately, this piece lacked vibrancy and missed several opportunities for development.
Five female dancers present personal experiences of pressure on the female body in Her past in their present now. The dancers begun in a line upstage, dimly lit, their movements slowly develop and their breath intensifies as the speed grows. The initial section lost intensity, however, we were then hit with an explosion of energy as one of the dancers erupted into a series of commando rolls – bouncing in and out of the floor – her self-generated momentum shiningly visible. The audience were stunned as another dancer propelled and tumbled across the stage, the others catching and releasing her as required.
Duwane Taylor left the audience speechless with his resounding performance of It’s Time to Speak. He took to the stage in a cloud of haze and delivered an emotive solo focused on the suppression of free speech in response to the recent series of unjust black killings. The intensity built as the piece progressed and Taylor expressed the poignant frustration felt by those whose voices are being ignored – the physical exertion was visible, particularly when Taylor stood centre stage, silently screaming, perspiration glistening across his face. It’s Time to Speak culminated when Taylor stood centre stage behind a lectern and delivered a powerful rap… red light grew around him and the energy was extraordinary.
Coral Montejano Cantoral reviews
Two women get dressed on stage, and with glances of complicity start a playful, dynamic, yet plain duet. Throughout fifteen minutes, Kiri Golding and Emma Hill move in space without pauses or stillness: at times pulling or rolling in unison, at others hugging, balancing or provoking each other. Hand Towards explores the idea of placing the body in unpredictable scenarios in order to push the boundaries of our comfort zone. However, the lack of realness made the piece predictable. I could see vibrant potential; maybe more weight, ‘out of balance’, speed and opposite extremes would make this piece evolve and challenge the performers.
It is not easy to be alone on stage and to maintain the audience’s attention all the way through. Nicole McDowall dressed in black ornamental costume, knows how to do it. Nelum is a strong solo about identity, supported by Mikey J’s exciting original sound composition. Starting with fluid and sensitive movements, the piece quickly unravels into dynamic hip hop and contemporary language. It seems that McDowall is very into herself throughout the whole piece, so I was surprised that after walking defiantly into the audience, she returns to what appears to be an honest exposition of herself.
With a wonderful soundtrack including Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole and Louis Armstrong, Lots of Varied Expectations is a refreshing, warm and entertaining piece to conclude the night. Not only does the music create an atmosphere, but the clever balance of earthy vintage costumes and opaque lighting gives the stage a sense of dream-like images. Like animals in courtship, the piece is constructed by different expositions of heterosexual couples who are desperately and comically trying to find… well, love. It then switches to highly rhythmical group unisons that make you want to stand up and join the party. Arielle Smith finds a way of making a true parody out of the pursuit of honest relationships.
Emma Iskowitz reviews
Lots of strong and direct declarations filled the roundup tonight, with all the artists using voice-over techniques to provide structure for their works.
Justin Reeve and Company started the night off with Living is Dancing, a comedy of three women trying to survive the dance audition process, and designed for a student audience. The dancers were bold and distinct in their characters, portraying a plethora of delightfully fun scenes and stories. While this snippet-style of composition and vague narrative structure often aided the pace and added humor, it occasionally made the work feel a bit scattered all over the place and odd to follow. It was enjoyable nonetheless, and will do well for a young audience.
A man stands alone at the front of the stage, telling a story with his hands. He kneels before shattered pottery, trying to fit the pieces together, and boxes his shadow on the wall. Then he comes back to where he began, and tells us that is mother is dead. Hiraeth, choreographed and performed by Shaun Dillon, was danced with beautiful fluidity and power, attempting to portray his sense of loss and grieving. These strong emotions, however, sometimes seemed to be overly displayed to the audience and acted. The most touching moment of the work was when he simply stood in the light, and let his feelings exist as they were.
Resilience, presented by Boadicea Dance Company, featured a large cast of women of different ages and ethnicities, coming together to portray the struggles and triumphs of women as individuals and as a force. The work, though lacking in finesse and a strong compositional framework, was approachable and entertaining, utilizing a lively mixture of hip-hop and contemporary vocabulary performed by vivid dancers. Overall tonight, the pieces were of a colorful and straightforward nature, and enjoyable for a varied audience though perhaps sometimes in need of the traditional writer’s advice: to show and not tell.
Francesca Marotto reviews
Although only a short extract from a full-length show, The Penguin & I managed to transport me into its surreal world of acrobatics and intriguing characters, with a light-hearted humour but never trivial. What looks like an ordinary man seated on a sofa in a living room is soon involved in a series of bizarre encounters. The set design is a real surprise, hands and arms magically appear from behind and below the couch revealing the presence of three strange characters. There’s even a penguin, in a role that I have not yet been able to identify, possibly an alter ego or simply an unsettling presence. Living Room Circus’ hypnotic balancing tricks and astounding physicality make The Penguin & I a remarkable piece.
In Light of Those You Love is an immersive theatrical experience, raw and real. Katherine (Hannah McGlashon)and Tom (Christopher Thomas), a couple going through a marriage crisis, fight and blame each other for being miserable until they get to the point of putting in doubt the definition of insanity. Combining spoken word and dance, the performance shifts between real life and dream. Their exceptional theatrical abilities effectively convey the ruthless drama, and the choreography, at times smooth and fluid but mainly made of energetic contact and tense entanglements, reflects the violence. Particularly suggestive is the use of lights, allowing dancers to play with light bulbs at their own pace.
Jade Hackett’s work takes on the theme of slavery from a different perspective, showing the strength and resilience of black culture, and investigating the idea of familial love that generated from it. The Duke Joint alternates moments of brutal drama with satirical theatre, all coloured with captivating hip hop moves. Some scenes are particularly strong, like when a slave in chains walks in or when all four of them are checked – mouth and genitals – before being sold. There’s a lot on stage, probably 20 minutes is not enough to grasp the whole depth of the piece. I would be really keen on watching the full-length show to delve deeper into the topic.