Resolution 2018: The Follow Through Collective, Counterpoint Dance Company, Mil Vukovic Smart

Posted: February 19th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Performance | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Resolution 2018: The Follow Through Collective, Counterpoint Dance Company, Mil Vukovic Smart

Resolution 2018: The Follow Through Collective, Counterpoint Dance Company and Mil Vukovic Smart.

Terri Biard, Kashish Gaba, Mil Vukovic Smart & Luigi Ambrosio in HILT (photo: Donna Ford)

The purpose of Resolution is to allow choreographers to try out their ideas on a public platform (though its artist-led marketing strategy means audiences are heavily weighted with friends and family). Research and exploration are welcomed as in The Follow Through Collective’s Drowning, which ‘evolved around the subject of marine pollution’. For an ambitious project combining the forces of six musicians, six dancers and the work of visual artist Clara Boulard, Drowning has a single message and a single central image that fit the nature of the work as environmental polemic and proactive appeal. On the corner of the stage is a selection of plastic bottles wrapped for some reason in paper as a reference to the ‘over 51 trillion micro plastic particles’ in which our oceans are drowning. Choreographer Greta Gauhe has harnessed an array of visual and acoustic elements in Drowning to evoke a sense of underwater marine life, from the eddies and currents of the dancers’ movement to the ripples of water on Boulard’s filmed images matching the arms of the dancers. The balance between the island of chamber musicians and the ocean of dancers is more ambiguous, and adding the sound of surf to the chamber strings is aural tautology, but all this becomes secondary to the appearance of a clear plastic bubble with Gauhe trapped inside trying desperately to beat her way out. The suffocating imagery goes to the heart of marine pollution and is thus the true starting point of the work.

From a collection of plastic bottles to a pile of assorted shoes: Simona Scotto’s Journeys of Internal Migration uses shoes as the underlying signifier of migration and identity. In a seamlessly intergenerational cast, performers in bare feet initially gather round the pile of shoes as if around a campfire, reaching in to take out their shoes as stories. Individuals take on the character of their footwear by dancing out their ambulatory and olfactory tales to recorded voice-overs — Bruce Currie the smells and Andy Newman his Doc Martins — and in doing so reveal a breadth of human emotion that belongs to embodied experience. Francis Knight cuts through any pretense of dance by expressing compellingly the value of gesture along with Annabel Knobbs, while Oemi Soeyono dances a delicate, pensive duet with her shoes on her hands. These transactions of sensibilities, generational differences and sexual orientation are some of the personal elements Scotto playfully weaves into her treatment of both internal and external forms of migration. From play arises the sense of humour that pervades the work and draws the audience into the action — particularly in the section of gestural dances to recorded instructions and in the unison patterns that career in new directions like dowsing explorations. Yet underneath the ludic quality lies an altruistic desire to make of migrations not an endless path but a rich and flexible community. Scotto’s achievement is enhanced by the colours of her costumes, the selection of René Aubry’s music and Marine Le Houezec’s carefully focused lighting.

After the ritual tipping out of the audience into the bar, we return to a bare stage and the disembodied voice of former Rambert ballerina Beryl Goldwyn talking to Claire Izzard about dancing the role of Giselle. In a monochrome colour scheme Terri Biard walks in and stands with her back to us; Kashish Gaba strolls in, then Luigi Ambrosio wearing a kilt. When Mil Vukovic Smart joins the group with bare legs in black trunks we are acutely aware of a disconnect with the romantic ballet. Or is there? When the four turn to each other in silence with signs and gestures of alienation — Ambrosio is eloquently withdrawn — it is clear Vukovic Smart’s HILT (with dramaturgical support from Paul Hughes) is not simply inspired by the Mad Scene from Giselle but seeks to recreate the interior landscape of Giselle’s mind that JulZin’s sampled, reverberating extracts from Adam’s original score so eerily suggest. Independent of the ballet’s narrative (that Goldwin has already re-told), Vukovic Smart drills down into the depths of derangement to concentrate on what it might look like just below the surface of the tutus and pointe shoes. In stark red light the four dancers reference a classical ballet class in a key of concentrated distraction to Muse’s rock version of Feeling Good and Biard essays some of Giselle’s choreographic phrases to JulZin’s samples. Elsewhere there are arms like wilted flowers, silent screams, searing suspicion, brooding, gliding monologues, and a febrile energy that overflows in slides, jumps and turns. Biard finally succumbs and is laid to rest, leaving Goldwyn’s voice to remind us of life on the performative surface. In the boldness of its conception and in its sympathetic yet graphic imagination, Vukovic Smart is on to something here, and if HILT isn’t quite fully formed it is tantalizingly close.

Resolution 2018: Autin Dance Theatre, Elinor Lewis and Nuria Legarda Andueza, BARBERDANCE Luca Braccia

Posted: February 18th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Performance | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Resolution 2018: Autin Dance Theatre, Elinor Lewis and Nuria Legarda Andueza, BARBERDANCE Luca Braccia

Autin Dance Theatre; Elinor Lewis and Nuria Legarda Andueza; BARBERDANCE Luca Braccia, Resolution 2018, The Place, February 2

Elinor Lewis and Nuria Legarda Andueza in Orchard (photo: Tom Elkins)

On the Resolution 2018 platform this evening are three works that explore tension in quite different environments. The first is Autin Dance Theatre’s Dystopia, a duet with Johnny Autin and Laura Vanhulle and dramaturgy by Neus Gil Cortes that goes over the familiar ground of an embattled relationship but in a dynamic, almost brutal physical vocabulary that is nevertheless refined in its emotional heft and tender in its resolution. Autin is a powerful, acrobatic dancer whose fluidity allows subtle narrative interpretations to permeate his choreography and in Vanhulle he has found a match in strength and breadth of styles with a naturally fluent expression; the two can stare each other down, explode in frustration or melt into understanding with equal measure. Dystopia is, according to the program note, ‘looking at our human need for connecting and belonging, in opposition with our modern anxieties based on fear and violence.’ In terms of the physical language of dance, connection is common to both ‘belonging’ and to ‘violence’, which is what creates the tension in Dystopia. The distance between Autin and Vanhulle is constantly stretched or diminished with a force that, until the very end, remains unresolved. Richard Shrewsbury’s sound plays a parallel role in the work, at first creating a thick aural atmosphere then piercing it with words as emotions (though I’m not sure they are necessary) and finally distilling it delightfully into a Scottish reel. Having given all they have got, and given as much as they receive from each other, Autin and Vanhulle expel the tension between them in a final gesture of belonging.

Elinor Lewis and Nuria Legarda Andueza’s Orchard is a deceptively calm oasis of a work constructed and performed with a fine precision that becomes its focus. The set, designed by Lewis, is a precise grid of identical, chest-high vertical poles that have an air of solidity in the stillness and silence of the opening image of Lewis and Andueza standing like Egyptian statuary in a cornfield looking across at each other over the top of the stalks. Their game is to move towards each other without touching any of the poles but they move so meticulously and almost imperceptibly it’s like watching paint dry except for the inherent risk of miscalculation. I calculate it will take five minutes for them to meet in the centre aisle of the grid and it does. But then the trajectories change; the women back up, rock slowly side to side, and then dart like a knight in a chess game to a new space. The sense of tension builds in the audience as the nature of the game wrestles constantly with the stability of the poles and as subsequent spatial challenges are overcome relief and disbelief are equally expressed in laughter. Orchard is a simple concept that is paced to perfection; Lewis and Andueza calm us down by lying like twin halves of a pediment fitted neatly between columns and then slide gently through the grid as if the game is over. When we least expect it, with quick birdlike movements of the head they suddenly roll over and knock down the poles around them. With a look of sheepish surprise they confirm in this one stroke the true nature of their game and of their achievement.

It’s ironic to follow a piece about topographical limits with a work called Where is my border? but the two couldn’t be further apart in content. From the silence and precision of the one we lurch to the emotional turmoil and disorder of the other. The subject of Luca Braccia’s work is not conceptual but visceral, the deleterious effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in war veterans. However, in appropriating the physical language commonly associated with the symptoms of PTSD — such as the jerked repetitive movements and contractions from shell shock victims in World War 1 hospital films and from the visual currency of news reportage and Hollywood blockbusters — he fails to acknowledge the psychological pain that underpins it. The result is a depiction of trauma that lacks its visceral quality. To succeed in finding an artistic means of expressing trauma that can engage the spectator with its emotional disarray, effect has to give way to the impenetrability of a disorder that ambushes the sufferer with its mental and physical anguish (think of Crystal Pite’s Betroffenheit). Braccia’s sound montage gets closer to creating a dark, suffocating aural environment but his dancers are too robust and in control to render with equal force the distress of PTSD. For all its energy, Where is my border? moves us not towards the affect of trauma but away from it.