Review: Edge at The Place

Performance: 24 June 2010
Reviewed by Katie Fish - Saturday 26 June 2010

EDge, The Place, 24-26 June. Image: Frauke Requardt's piece

Edge, the postgraduate performance company of London Contemporary Dance School, continued their international tour by returning to home ground at The Place. The evening was a showcased the skill and diversity of the eleven strong female company and featured work by emerging and established choreographers.

First up was Figure Ground by Rick Nodine – a casual, meandering ensemble piece which drew you in with unpretentious ease. The title refers to the ability to separate an object from its surroundings, and invited the viewer to observe the figures as they drifted between foreground and background. A soloist would emerge from the group’s stillness to perform folding and gathering actions before joining others taking quick, deliberate steps, torsos twisting and limbs reaching, bodies tilting and falling into travelling. Brief comings together just as quickly disperse and leaders become followers as shifting pathways mark the space. Heavy rainfall combines with a metallic tapping as dancers fall in and out of synch and suddenly change direction. Similarly, we are both at one with and yet also apart from the dancers as our gaze zooms in and out of the onstage landscape.

‘Space means room’ begins the monologue that accompanies Wally Cadona’s Decomposition 1, a study on how space is embodied and inhabited. The movement was mostly a combination of shuffling and jogging, with the dancers crowding into a tight corner before spilling out with sudden energy. Identical actions were imbued with different emotions; tension, assertion, ease, frenzy, to show how individuals personify their movements, whether spontaneous and random or purposeful and instinctive. Although it started interestingly enough, the repetitiousness of Decomposition 1, failed to move me.

After the interval came Decomposition 2, with the more upbeat vibes of Jefferson Airplane’s She Has Funny Cars. Brief in its entirety, it involved half the company performing upstage in a pool of light, with the other half cast in shadow downstage. Whilst the upstage dancers seemed to be oblivious to onlookers, each dancing as if in the privacy of her bedroom, the dancers at the rear strode confidently towards us, momentarily pausing with an expression of expectancy before the lights went down. An extended silence before the applause hinted that this air of expectancy was also shared by many of the audience.

Flux was choreographed by Lucy Suggate for a solo dancer, and on this night, it was the turn of Jamila Johnson-Small. With her eyes closed throughout the short work, it is the subtlety of her movement rather than her facial expression that demands our attention. At first we watch each movement unfold as it travels sequentially from the end of one arm to the other. Gathering in pace, it remains its fluid melting quality, and it seems to come from a source deep within the mover’s slight frame. Unfortunately, the work seems to end before it begins but I hope it marks the first of many viewings of this captivating dancer.

German choreographer Frauke Requardt wraps up the evening with a bittersweet work which sees the company modelling as flowers, clad head to toe in green with their faces peeping through their brightly coloured petals. At times cheeky and humorous with the dancers spinning dizzily and making a chorus-line with high-kicks and shaking hips, the piece is given an air of gravitas as we see the flowers drooping with bowed heads, and giving high-pitched cries. A floral swan-song to end a diverse and entertaining evening.

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