This January, I was fortunate to be selected to take part in The Place’s Resolution Review programme. This involved reviewing performances that were part of the annual Resolution festival which is a showcase for new and emerging choreographers to show their work. As part of the reviewing process I was mentored by professional dance critics who work for publications such as The Times, The Guardian, The Evening Standard and others.
Below are my reviews from the festival written on three seperate occasions across January and February 2016 – all reviews originally hosted here.
Fri 8 Jan:Crystal Zillwood/Traceworks/Sarah Louise Kristiansen
Featuring solos, ensembles and even jazz, the opening evening of Resolution 2016 couldn’t have been more diverse. There were two group pieces, the first, Tracework’s Jazz Scene was a unexpected surprise with dancers bursting into the space to a blaring brass filled jazz score. The energy of the sound was certainly channelled in the movement, which was contemporary in style, but executed rather franticly by the dancers as they chased the music. A breath of fresh air was the solo in the middle of the piece performed by Sabrina Gargano. Her playful facial expressions paired with quirky and curious movement was an element that would have also been welcome if elaborated on elsewhere in the piece as this was a real spark in the work.
An Apple a Day, by Sarah Louise Kristiansen was a stark contrast to Jazz Scene, due to its far darker thematic content exploring love, loss and emotion. Sadly these ideas got lost throughout the flurries of technical movement, but did emerge at points through some beautiful solo moments performed by strong dancers. Indeed all the dancers of the company were aesthetically pleasing in their movement, but the choreography may have been too pretty at times to carry the weight of what Kristiansen intended to convey.
Evolutio, performed and choreographed by Crystal Zillwood kicked off the evening in a dynamic way. An incredibly athletic performer and inquisitive choreographer, Zillwood’s dexterity was truly hypnotic. Here she explored the theme of evolution and the development of life, fluidly transitioning between both animalistic forms and pedestrian and functional movement. This gripping piece could have gone on for twice the length and Zillwood would have continued to mesmerise with her skilled and thoughtful performance.
Thu 21 Jan: Ransack Dance/Alicia Kidman/Riviere,Gasiorek&Stigsdatter
Ransack Dance kicked off tonight’s triple bill with their piece Broken Arrows by Sarah Rogers. Beginning with a soft explorative duet accompanied by a live guitarist and singer, (who impressively also danced in the piece) the other dancers then joined the pair on stage and went on to tell us intimate stories from life. From partying, through raging storms to love and romance, it was an ambitious story to tell, but admirably attempted. These ideas would be welcomely explored individually, such as the moment where the dancers swam in pools of light on the floor, and certainly have the potential to be developed further.
A welcome slice of comic relief came in Omni Commeo by Alicia Kidman; an exploration into the notion of communication. This piece followed the dancers as they deciphered means of communication without actually uttering a word of English. Making noises reminiscent of The Sims, the dancers uttered gibberish and interacted with their bodies, noise and the space around them to playfully explore their world. Even with the masses of comedy in the piece, there was no distracting from the wonderfully dexterous and and intuitive movement of the dancers. It had perfect comic timing and was an incredibly clever piece to watch unfold.
Charley Enhanced presented by Riviere,Gasiorek&Stigsdatter did not grip me from the off as the other works had, but as the action unfolded and we fell deeper into watching the dancers explore the improvisational score they had devised, it became mesmerising. It is easy to appreciate the actions of the dancers on stage when they are improvising, particularly when the dancers are as thoughtful and curious about each movement as they were. Watching them travel around the space and examine their relationships with each other was intriguing to see evolve and when they snapped out of their trance to take a deserved bow, I felt their hypnotised audience weren’t ready for it to end just yet.
Wed 10 Feb: Caldonia Walton/Sofie Burgoyne/Julie Cunningham
The stage is set familiarly for Caldonia Walton’s Living…in the Living Room. Two chairs, a lamp, and three individuals are all confined to a large rug and all seem equally a part of the ‘room’. Initially sticking to the parameters of the rug, the dancers eventually venture further in a series of snapshots exposing the traits of the characters. The first instigates the escape from the room. The second, a scatty character, flits on and off the rug whilst delivering a confused monologue of words and movement, energetically performed by Walton herself. The last, a lamenting solo, which sadly dampened the energy of the piece just as it had peaked.
A clue was in the programme note in Sofie Burgoyne’s Dancing together apart/Dancing apart together. There were no listed performers, which turned out to be the role the audience took in this surreal piece. The audience were plunged into darkness and Burgoyne took us on a semantic journey. With soothing and repetitive narrative she conjured bizarre descriptions resulting in the imagining of a Dali-esque landscape – a magenta velvet curtain, bubbling waterfall, and twelve feet dancing – before returning the audience/performers to reality but leaving us in darkness to dwell on the experience. This moment of reflection was perhaps too long, as our mutual experiences would certainly have instigated immediate discussion from the audience had the lights returned sooner.
Julie Cunningham’s Guts was an incredibly satisfying piece to watch in familiar codified Cunningham technique. Performed with such precision and accuracy by each dancer, the four-part piece explored the feelings and anatomical features of the gut. The tilts and curves of the technique’s vocabulary lent themselves well to the ideas of ‘looking inwards’ and exploring the ‘labyrinth’ of the anatomy. Moments of contact between all four performers, moving as one, evoked the idea of a pumping, living organ with all anatomical parts combining to function as perfectly as the movements of the dancers.