Review: Nutshell Dance Company - Retrospective - Blue Elephant Theatre

Performance: 29 October - 2 November 2013
Reviewed by Laura Dodge - Monday 4 November 2013

Nutshell Dance. Photo: Alicia Clarke

At a tiny 50-seat venue, the curiously named Blue Elephant Theatre, tucked away in the back streets of Camberwell, Mari Frogner’s latest work was performed last week.Retrospective aimed to explore the transition from child to adult, confronting issues such as sexuality and identity.

Creating a full-length minute work for five dancers is no small task and considering that Frogner only graduated (from Trinity Laban) in 2009, such ambition is praiseworthy – but I couldn’t help thinking that a smaller-scale, shorter work might have had more impact.

Frogner’s choreography focused on several movements – including leaning off balance, falling over and arm slapping – which were repeated extensively but had (at least to me) little meaning. Other sequences felt more like mime, such as picking up a heavy bag and dialling an old-fashioned telephone – but again the context and intention was unclear.

There were some interesting duets, especially a male/female one which paid no heed to typical gender roles, with both partners lifting and wrapping their bodies around each other equally. However, the majority of choreography lacked the uniqueness of style or dynamism to engage.

Having originally trained and worked as an economist, where she felt as if she was “always missing something”, it is no surprise that Frogner wants to accelerate her choreographic career. But on seeing Retrospective, it was the choreographer’s ambition that I was left admiring rather than the work itself.

Laura Dodge writes for Dancing Times, Dance Today, Londonist, Bachtrack, amongst other publications. She is also Communications and Membership Officer at Dance UK and a freelance dance teacher.

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