Review: Greenwich and Docklands International Festival: Dancing City at Docklands

Performance: 24 Jun
Reviewed by Lindsey Clarke - Wednesday 28 June 2006

Docklands is a fantastical place at weekends, all soaring glinting office towers and pristine manmade gardens; the smell of the sea drifting off the Thames and calm and quiet all around. For one afternoon, Dancing City installed accessible pockets of charming and challenging dance throughout Canary Wharf, entertaining, surprising and baffling the laid back crowd, for free, in equal measure.

She lies with me…, Wired Aerial Theatre, East Wintergarden

There’s a touch of magic about aerialistics, and Wired Aerial Theatre’s term “bungee choreography” doesn’t do justice to the elegant swooping, falling and floating executed by the two performers. Suspended by bungee rope from the 27m high arched glass ceiling of the East Wintergarden, and expertly counterbalanced by ghostly climbers the performers gently descend through a mist of dry ice, scattering torn page fragments face to upturned face with the audience below.

A short sweet piece of girl loses boy, girl finds boy, and boy loses bungee rope. The dancers moved from mid air to the floor, the audience drawn into a theatrical game of hide and seek before being swept aside to make way for what I hope was some heart lifting, anti-gravity enhanced choreography but I couldn’t see any of it because all the tall people in the room had randomly congregated in front of me. I should have muscled my way to the front and squatted down with the kids, who were all entranced.

Miniatora (world premiere), Candoco, Outside Canary Wharf station

It’s not clear what Miniatora is all about, but the bronze lycra catsuits, reflective sunglasses and swimming hats don’t do the dancers any favours. With luminous orange inflatables strapped to their backs they resemble homemade prehistoric creatures exercising and battling together beneath the pointy rubber arms of the two giant inflatable jacks wedged against each other outside Canary Wharf underground station, creating an odd, colourful performance space plumped between the glass and steel towers of Docklands. An electro-acoustic soundscape pulsates and bleeps.

It’s difficult to take your eyes off James O’Shea, a double leg amputee. His sinuous handstands and graceful maneouvering around the set are arresting. Overall however, the company seem overexposed outdoors, but the strangeness of the spectacle, in the middle of Canary Wharf on a sunny Saturday afternoon with an intrigued audience, saves it.

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