Review: Pick of Resolution! Review, week two - The Place

Performance: 8 Jan - 21 Feb 2015
Reviewed by Miriam Garnett/ Keith Watson - Friday 30 January 2015

Sara Black - Value for Money
Photo: Chris Mercer

We’re finishing up the third week of Resolution!, the annual platform for emerging dance makers at The Place. Each week we’ll be sharing the reviews from one evening in the previous week, written by participants in Resolution! Review – the critical writing programme which accompanies the Resolution! season and provides two short reviews of every single evening (that’s 28 nights, 84 works). The reviews are written by a team of six professional critics (Josephine Leask, Donald Hutera, Sanjoy Roy, Graham Watts, Keith Watson, Lyndsey Winship) and a cohort of seven aspiring writers who were selected via an open call process.

Last Thursday Miriam Garnett and Keith Watson saw Out of Order’s Meeting Point; Snakebox’s P.L.A.Y and Sarah Black’s Value for Money

The image of a dancer spiralling through the air clutching a suitcase made for a striking and compelling opening to Out of Order’s Meeting Point. The piece was distinguished by such images– moments of clarity and beauty created in the intertwining of aerial work, powerful lighting and quirky, interesting movement. It is a pity that these moments were often undermined by the presence of a collection of enigmatic suitcases which seemed to be a tool for some unfathomable extended metaphor. Inexplicable suitcases aside though, Meeting Point was an example of just how mesmerising dance can be.

It is always somewhat alarming for an audience to discover that something other than sitting back and watching is required of us, and P.L.A.Y undoubtedly asked more of us – imitating various farmyard animals was certainly not how I expected to spend my Thursday evening. Otis Jones and Akeim Buck artfully cajoled their audience into a series of improvisatory games, using our responses as stimuli for both music and dance – bringing us with them on a slightly bizarre trajectory in a charmingly engaging way. The duo’s witty and imaginative exploration of how the audience can become part of a creative process left me feeling curious to see more.

A hasty mental readjustment was necessary for Value for Money – an exploration of the idea of bodies as commodities which began with a dimly lit naked female body on stage. Paradoxically, the tone of this opening was one of subtlety and secrecy – possibly a comment on the contradictory ways in which our society perceives the naked body. Value for Money moved through the sensual, disturbing and entertaining, a highlight being a brilliant gestural section of articulate hands and facial expressions. The multiplicity of images presented in this piece was thought provoking but the subtle expressivity diminished as it progressed – perhaps too eager to develop on what could have sustained our attention for much longer.

Miriam Garnett

The increasing inter-play between choreography and circus arts has breathed fresh life into dance and certainly whenever Out Of Order’s Meeting Point took to the air, it became elevated beyond its earthbound origins. It was the impressive aerial twirling on a harness which gave Meeting Point a sense of grandeur and urgency it lacked when the quartet of perfomers were gathered on the ground below. A musing on our journey through life, told with the aid of the odd hurtling suitcase. Meeting Point never quite arrived at a satisfactory destination. But there is much potential in Out Of Order’s melding of dance and aerialism.

There was a relaxed laidback, festival vibe to Snakebox’s P.L.A.Y – and it’s easy to envisage this matey exercise in audience participation going down a storm with punters at Glastonbury or Latitude, the kind of destination it’s aimed at. Snakebox duo Otis Jones and Akeim Buck switched roles as musician and dancer as they engaged with the audience in wordplay games that turned the entire audience into farmyard animals and led to improv outbreaks of rap and dance – try doing a solo to the word ‘concertina’ – of ragged charm, If Resolution! had a feel good prize, these two would stroll it.

This performance contains nudity. Why do those four words always strike fear in my heart? Freudian hang-ups aside, Sara Black’s Value For Money, a shadowy exploration as the body as commodity, largely side-stepped suspicions of gratuitous kit-offery as its eventually starkers trio teased around the difference between the clothed and unclothed states. It was contemporary dance as burlesque, feathers and sequins replaced with baggy jumpers and trousers, and the performers carried it off with confident guile. Though what it achieved, beyond turning the audience into voyeurs, remained a tantalising mystery.
Keith Watson

Resolution! continues nightly at The Place until Saturday 21 February (except Sundays & Mondays)

Read all Resolution! Reviews, 2015

Main photo: Sara Black by Chris Mercer

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