Didy Veldman’s company is touring again and life is good as thoughtful, quality dance hits smaller local venues once again – in my case the friendly Wilde Theatre at Salt Hill Park in Bracknell.
It’s Veldman’s company third outing and I’m not sure why but the name of her troupe has changed from Umanoove to Humanoove. More substantively the company has morphed again into something that is less star-studded than previous incarnations but is in no way short of dance fire power. All five dancers are kick-ass good with fine contemporary pedigrees and much collective experience to bring to the dramatic table. I hope they go on to work together more.
In @ HOME Veldman takes on life under lockdown: “After a year when home is all that we’ve known, it’s a work that looks at feelings around connection, self-worth and relationships in the place where we should feel ourselves.” In this case, home is suggested on stage by a feature high wall, five chairs, a table, mattress, hat stand and, the finishing touch, a rubber plant. But these elements are often scrambled and manipulated or entirely swept to one side as we drop in on a series of unconnected vignettes of lives lived in all their rich variety. Notable was the section for two men, climbing the wall, supportive and yet unsupportive, together and not by turns, and the couple dancing so close they change clothes, which you can read on so many levels from the love of others’ clothes to experimenting with a whole set of different values. And I loved Melody Tamiz, as the daughter of immigrants, alone in her flat and talking about the parental pressure to succeed.
What linked it all was Veldman’s smoothly expressive and expansive choreography. It all feels so natural and organic – so human. Dancers seem to flow over one another and become gently entangled, there are no hard edges or snappy alien movements here and it feels the more impressive for it. Cutting across this is the score of Sabio Janiak which can be deeply hard-edged and mysterious at times and then more cosy – it’s a fine foil to the stage action; but suffusing so much of @ HOME is also the feeling of lives lived separately – people may be together and yet they inhabit different internal worlds. The internet is not overtly referenced on stage but hangs over so much with our ability to be in the room and yet not and also the opening of minds to different mores.
There are no big messages in @ HOME, rather it has the feel of a dream on the diversity of ‘ordinary’ big city lives these days. And, like any dream, it can make you think and reflect on its wider conundrums. A fine work and for me the best of Veldman’s three Humanoove/Umanoove shows – I just wish it were longer than 70 minutes.