Review: Freddie Opoku-Addaie in Mixed Bill at The Place

Performance: 7-9 May 09
Reviewed by Libby Costello - Tuesday 19 May 2009

Freddie Opoku-Addaie, part of Spring Loaded 09. 7-9 May. The Place. Photo: Benedict Johnson

Freddie Opoku-Addaie brought a mixed bag of old and new work to the Place on Friday 8 May as part of Spring Loaded 2009. Winner of the Robin Howard Foundation Commission, a 2006 Place Prize finalist and a future Associate Artist of the Royal Opera House, Opoku-Addaie is the man to watch.

Set in Stone, Opoku-Addaie’s work incorporating London youth dance groups has been performed in many arena’s including the Youth Dance Conference (2009) and the Youth Dance England Festival (2008). It’s solid structure based on a teenage Ghanaian game gave the opportunity for Shift, The Place’s youth dance company, to take centre stage. The hip hop infused vocabulary was well performed, although did not appear to challenge or fully utilize the dancers abilities.

Bf, a power struggle between two men, gave us a taste of Opoku-Addaie as a dancer and choreographer. The strong masculine choreography accented with foot stamps and body slaps brought tribal aspects to contemporary movement. Silence Speaks Volumes, originally choreographed for the Place Prize in 2006, also brought strong movement to the stage along with dramatic screaming and complicated movement phrases. The craftsmanship in both pieces became lost as the movement and concepts were unclear – the only indication of theme coming from the programme notes.

The evening ended on a high with Mis-thread the 2009 Robin Howard Foundation Commission. Drawing upon his Ghanaian roots again, Opoku-Addaie used folk dance and street codes mixed with sign language to create a hybrid vocabulary. Although the work was hindered by unclear concepts once again, it is easy to see why this choreographer is stepping into the spotlight.

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