Posts Tagged: Dance Umbrella

Vertical

Le Patin Libre: Vertical 
At Somerset House 14th January 2016
Maisie Sadgrove

On Thursday evening we made our way to Somerset House to watch a performance of contemporary ice skating. This was the extent of my prior knowledge. The ice rink was a smooth glossy platform lit by purples and blues surrounded by the royal like architecture of Somerset House. The five dancers (four men and one woman) entered their clear canvas in casual clothing, tones of yellow, grey and white. As they stand in stillness the outside air blows their shirts in the wind.

As the piece began it was hard to not notice the marks being made upon the ice by the blades of their shoes. Some were clear and direct, some at an angle churning up the ice like piles of dust. The ice became a conscious element of the piece evolving with the movement being performed upon it. By chance as the wind blew throughout the piece the excess fragments of ice blew swept across the floor which created a beautiful layer to the setting. The dancers, unlike your usual performance on ground, could weave seamlessly in and out of formations standing like statues. The gliding was effortless and almost hypnotising. At times the expeditious spinning and gravity defying jumps were terrifying as an audience member but they showed great skill and ability throughout the whole piece.

A clear humanity was emitted from the dancers through their focus. They gave a sense of individuality with alternating solos and differentiating qualities. Despite this they came together harmoniously in times of unison. Their connection between one another allowed them to speed up and slow down without a second glance. The fusion of contemporary and skating was structured seamlessly showing no division. Whilst watching the dancers I was curious what came first, the contemporary or the ice skating, because both were executed so well.

The connection with the audience really eradicated the fourth wall usually holding boundary between front facing audiences and performance. There was personality and playfulness and it was clear the dancers enjoyed the performance just as much as their audience.

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Choreographic Experiments…so far…

I can’t quite believe that we’re already over half way through the first term of this new year of Next Choreography. But then, when I look back, I am reminded of how much we’ve done, seen, experienced and discussed. We’ve had Sanjoy Roy in to talk to us about writing about dance; we went to Farringdon NCP carpark on the opening night of Dance Umbrella to watch Of Riders and Running Horses by Dan Canham/Still House; we went to The Place to watch Ben Duke performing his solo work Paradise Lost (Lies unopened beside me); last week Ben came in and shared some of his working practice with us. We got to experiment with being as absurd as possible and making lots of weird noises as well as ask questions and learn about some of the intricacies and pervading curiosities that Ben is grappling with. We briefly grappled with him. I think it was strangely liberating for us all!

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Last night the group came prepared with pre-devised movement scores/written choreographies/sets of instructions to exchange between each other. In groups of 3-4, they had an hour to prepare a performance from the instructions that they received. Then we watched and discussed how it was to interpret instructions and how it was to watch others performing your vision – what was unexpected? new? If we didn’t see what we had planned, did it matter? If we were to do it all again, what might we do differently? Lots of food for thought and delightful surprises.

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A review of AH/HA by Lisbeth Gruwez

A Tableau of 5 motionless dancers, are set on a wave of billiard green carpet, curving up against the wall. The amplified moment of stillness invites us to indulge the framing of their zany postures and abstained facial expressions. Their eclectic combinations of attire are standard to that of a Berlin charity shop ranging from mini skirts to a 90’s double denim ensemble. A pulsatile squeaking sound begins to reverberate, prompting a meticulously controlled bounce through the dancers knees on the spot. Imagine a noise and gesture that your joints would do having not ‘oiled’ them in 15 years.

As the sound ceaselessly continues, the dancers begin to shift their focal point to and away from us whilst minutely distributing the bounce they have so rhythmically harnessed, progress across their whole body.

Outsetting to recognise the bearings between each other, they collectively begin to react to one another and travel the space.

These transcending regroupings echo the absurdist mannerisms of scratched video game interactions between avatars.

The pace and quality of the gestures grow with the sound and as it becomes louder and more rapid, to what now could be compared to a broken mattress springing out, so did their physicality.

The squeaking has come to a close as they start emitting wheezes of air at random, dismembering into a chain reaction of episodes that revisit the whole experience of a laugh through the notion of the voice. Reconfiguring under a gleamingly yellow Belgian street lamp-floating central to the space – “We have travelled from day to night”.

The process has a yearning for its pinnacle point of nonsense as they attempt to fully articulate every style of laughter. Only to deconstruct what it is to laugh and juxtapose it with what it is to scream of pain. They regurgitate this motion until an atmosphere of angst has developed and the piece begins to descend.

The mood has straddled us in engagement as we face the exhaustion and hysteria of these two alternate extremities.

Taking the audience as witness, the dancers standing begin to lean into a tight mass caressing and feeling warmth for one another. Making their way toward the floor returning us to what they had familiarised us with at the start, stillness.

We return back to day time after this stalled moment and the sound has began to have a glitch within it, stopping at the pronounced sound–he-he.

With every glitch they lift their heads until they eventually stand up to conclude the song and the glitch follows through with a greeting of ‘Hello’.

The concluding song is Lionel Richie’s – Hello that has embedded in it a history of intimacy and ridiculousness.

Two thematics, I feel that most address the way in which we interact and censor ourselves now. The dancers have become athletes of their emotion and exercised ours by unpicking what it looks like to divide your body and its sound, in order we become aware of that frequency we all possess. The performance and song choice adequately questions thematic of interactions in our present day. Amplifying how we express ourselves at this point in time that is verging on to silent communication just as much as the exploration of how we laugh.

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Meeting the NEW Next Choreography group!

It’s been really lovely to start to get to know the new Next Choreography group over the last two sessions. We’ve dived into the deep end and I’ve already set them homework! But I’m confident that they will rise brilliantly to the challenge. This evening we have the pleasure of inviting Dance Critic, Sanjoy Roy to come and deliver a session about reviewing and writing about dance. We will be going to see Ben Duke’s (Lost Dog) solo show, Paradise Lost tomorrow evening at The Place theatre and Dan Canham’s (Still House) Of Riders and Running Horses next week as part of Dance Umbrella. So tonight should get us limbered up for watching, talking and writing about what we go to see.

In the mean time, here are a couple of photos and our book of words from our time together so far.

Session2

 

Book of Words Session 1
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