Review: Resolution! Jacob Hobbs / Jessie Brett / Kip Johnson

Performance: 13 Jan 2012
Reviewed by Lise Smith - Monday 16 January 2012

Kip Johnson. Photo: Eleanor Sikorski

Now in its 23rd year, The Place’s annual season of new choreography by up-and-coming artists is as much a fixture of January as post-Christmas diets and stalled attempts at self-improvement. While Resolution! programmes are marked by their unpredictable potential to contain everything from the terrific to the toe-curling, Friday’s triple bill was marked by a pleasing consistency of quality.

Jacob Hobbs took us on a journey into space with Project 51 ; not the cartoon-coloured action world of George Lucas, but rather the dark science fiction of Stanley Kubrick and Ridley Scott. Three silver-clad androids on an unnamed deep space mission; a sense of brooding isolation seems to be wreaking havoc with the androids’ circuits, sending them into spasmodic breakdown. The visual aesthetic is beautifully observed: red lights flash with menace, smoke leaks eerily across the floor, and Hobbs’ three female dancers move with superb precision and control. David Ibbets’ lo-fi electronic score put me in mind of John Carpenter’s soundtracks for his own films, which I mean entirely as a compliment.

Jessie Brett’s solo for herself changed the focus of the evening from deep space to the inner world of the self. Sitting on a park bench, pulsing to an inaudible rhythm with sudden gestures – a grasp of a handbag, a snatch of a hat – Brett whiles away her time waiting for something unknown. Night descends on the stage, bringing a burst of song and dance that might be in Brett’s head or might be a fit of somnambulism – certainly the clothes discarded during the dream seem to still be on the little come daybreak. Little kathak whirls and wrist flourishes creep into Brett’s expansive dream-state sequences, while her daytime movement remains strictly regimented and interior. Quietly affecting, Woolgatherer is a capable debut return to the Resolution! stage for this young artist.

Kip Johnson, known to many as a company dancer for Tilted Productions, Vincent Dance Theatre and Protein, closes Friday’s performance with the worst party ever seen on stage. Hidden inside a misshapen, oversized full-head mask, Johnson squirms on the floor beside a group of inert, embarrassed onlookers. There’s a strong dual theme of inverted exhibitionism here; Johnson’s enormous headgear both obscures and calls attention to his face; the single spotlight that picks out the dancer’s wriggling form both conceals and forces our gaze onto him; his crawling repeatedly into a gift wrapped cardboard box or hiding on the floor among the other partygoers’ feet is similarly a game of hide-and-seek-attention.

Accompanied by a lousy provincial DJ who seems a little bit too fond of slaughter-based music clichés and a group of friends who appear to be having marginally less fun than the squirming, self-abasing Johnson, Birthday is highly uncomfortable but totally engrossing viewing.

Judging by some of the faces in Friday’s audience there may well be a chance to see at least one of these pieces again, which means Resolution! is functioning exactly as it should be – as a launch pad for the artists of tomorrow. As one of Ridley’s characters might darkly say.

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