Review: Goddard/Nixon & Jose Agudo - Springloaded at The Place

Performance: 24 April 2012
Reviewed by Germaine Cheng - Friday 27 April 2012

Goddard Nixon 'Fitcher's Bird' Photo: Eric Richmond

It’s taken Goddard Nixon and Jose Agudo in this Spring Loaded double bill to make me realize how much I learned from two viewings of the 2010 blockbuster Inception. Like these two dance works the film delves deep into the subconscious mind, via the fascinating landscape of dreams and memories. According to Jonathan Goddard in the post-show Q&A, he might have experienced inception – the implantation of an original idea into one’s subconscious via his/her dreams. He talked about a recurring dream he had as a child, recalling a stark, somewhat bewildering image of himself covered in blood and feathers. The idea for Fitcher’s Bird grew from those startling dreams, as they led Goddard to the Bluebeard-like Grimm’s fairy tale of the same name.

Gemma Nixon takes on the role of all three sisters in the story, who are faced with Goddard’s entrancing sorcerer. The older two sisters in the tale suffer the same fate, dying at the hands of the sorcerer, having gone against his orders. Once again Nixon, in a reprise of an earlier sequence of movements, immerses herself further in the tragedy and inevitability of her character’s circumstances.

As Goddard picks Nixon up on his back for a third time, she struggles determinedly, unlike her two preceding sisters. Effectively capturing the sorrow of their deaths and a sense of wit-tinged dauntlessness, Nixon’s youngest sister holds her own against Goddard’s increasing menace. This does not last for long however, as she dives into the sorcerer’s arms, seemingly acknowledging her resistance to be futile and submitting to the fatal attraction.

In a departure from the Grimm’s tale, Nixon is unable to escape the deranged sorcerer who wants her hand in marriage. The duo retreat to an upstage corner, the harmonious melding of their bodies enveloped in a strobe-lit dome. As the light flickers, plunging the audience in instances of momentary darkness, feathers gracefully descended to the ground as Goddard swept Nixon up into a revolving and highly moving embrace.

In the film Inception, dream time runs much slower than real time. The illusion of the distortion of time is what Agudo is interested in and hopes to illustrate in Time/Dropper. Commanding the stage for a full 17 minutes is a tall order for a solo performer, yet it feels like he’s there for about seven.

Beginning with his back to the audience in the middle of a circle of light, Agudo’s presence is hypnotizing even in complete stillness. The silence is punctuated by emphatic out-breaths as he slowly finds movement in his pelvis and arms. Fred Defaye’s glitchy soundtrack rudely interrupts the atmospheric silence and there is no return to that opening “conversation”. Agudo brings to mind a Spanish-Indian Bruce Lee – cutting the space with the precision and agility of a martial artist, the fluidity of a kathak dancer and the sensuality of a flamenco artist.

The work is at its best, when it’s at its simplest. The numerous changes in lighting and unnecessary flashes only served to distract from the masterful performance. Sweet dreams surely are made of this – Time/Dropper on a bare stage, devoid of any lighting and entirely in silence. Keep my totem spinning I say!

Spring Loaded , the annual season at The Place showcasing the brightest talents of UK and International contemporary choreography continues at The Place until June

Germaine Cheng took part in this year’s Resolution! ReviewThe Place’s online magazine which includes reviews of every Resolution! show, by professional dance critics and aspiring writers.

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