Review: Resolution! - Ieva Kuniskis / Ceyda Tanc Dance / NRG Dance Company

Performance: 25 January 2013
Reviewed by Jeffrey Gordon Baker - Wednesday 30 January 2013

Ieva Kuniskis 'Gone to get milk'

Ieva Kuniskis Gone to get milk / Ceyda Tanc Dance Volta / NRG Dance Company Elsewhere

It was the kind of Resolution! programme that dreams are made of. All three works on display Friday night were among the most consistently inventive and well performed that I have seen to date at The Place’s – often pretty hit and miss – festival of new work. Any one of these choreographers could go on to great things, but the evening’s opener, Ieva Kuniskis’s tense and quirkily erotic trio Gone to get milk, was an unusual and brilliant standout.

Helen Aschauer dashes on hurriedly on an upstage diagonal, dropping her shopping along the way; scattering a bag of oranges across the floor adds the finishing touch of colour to an otherwise stark and moody scenography; a table in shadow, dangling bare lightbulb flickering. The tension is soon broken however, as Aschauer disappears off stage for a pee, the trickle and toilet flush of which are graphically amplified. Satiric but never just playing for laughs, this anxious entrance and ironic release, set the scene for a claustrophobic but genuine and funny deconstruction of life in a tense and peculiar household. Aschauer, Charlie Cooper Ford and Zoe Georgallis negotiate a series of scenes that could be a housemate love triangle or the troubling tale of incestuous sibling malice, in which colloquial gestures, lunatic repetitions and grabby, grasping exchanges are cleverly insinuated into a kind of perforated tango rhythm.

Duets between Ford and both women simmered with an undercurrent of desire, jarringly broken up by slappy, bickering hand jives, snatched embraces and awkward lifts and scrambles, that lent the piece a playful but darkly neurotic familiarity. Gone to get milk is chock full of sparkling moments between its three performers, each of them a precise mover with plenty of dancerly presence but whose dynamics were edged with the sharp corners of manipulative intention and emotional specificity, revealing them also as fine actors. Kuniskis quotes from genres and even fellow expressionist artists, but with a unique style of her own and an intense, mature focus on her subject matter and the development of her choreographic language. She should definitely be on the watch list of potential bright spark choreographers to come out of Resolution! this year.

Volta by Ceyda Tanc Dance and Elsewhere by NRG Dance Company were jailbirds of a feather; action packed bravura demonstrations of group choreography each with a prison theme. At first I was not convinced by Ceyda Tanc’s coterie of glamorous female dancers as a group of Turkish prisoners, but one soon forgot about that as they stalked around in stuttering walking formations and showed off heel stomping strength in executing some fierce almost martial arts-esque combinations. The original score by Seb Jaeger / Score-audio was a near Eastern tapestry of percussive melodies that served to locate the action more seamlessly than the distracting programme notes. There was sometimes a stilted formulaic quality to the floor plan and the sequencing of the piece felt more arranged than fluid, but it was performed by these plucky incarcerated mavens with prowess and formidable energy.

Elsewhere was more obviously set in some sort of expressionist correctional facility, given the stripey serial numbered costumes, also by choreographer Nathan Goodman. Goodman danced as well, shuffling across the space in the darkness of the opening moments, like a doddering asylum inmate. Jenna Broas was deliciously spikey and spidery in a solo performed in a corridor of light, a sinister devilish figure revelling maniacally in the cold sunlight pouring through the window of the institution. Yes, the wild eyed facial expressions and convulsive contortions made lunatics at bedlam perhaps closer to the interpretative mark than jail, but the stylistic congruence of angular, twitchy and lurching choreographic motifs, harsh overhead lighting and those post-bauhaus, neo-jailhouse rock pyjamas, provided an ultimately seductive and fantastical theatrical atmosphere.

Resolution! continues nightly at The Place until 15 February [not Sundays or Mondays]

Jeffrey Gordon Baker is a transplanted New Yorker living in London; an artist and writer who has studied art, performance and aesthetics at New York University, Central St Martins and Birkbeck College.

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