Review: Resolution - Caldonia Walton / Sofie Burgoyne / Julie Cunningham - The Place

Performance: 10 February 2016
Reviewed by Rachel Elderkin - Friday 12 February 2016

Julie Cunningham's  'Deep Down'. Photo: Chantal Guevara

Caldonia Walton Living… in the Living Room | Sofie Burgoyne Dancing together apart/Dancing apart together | Julie Cunningham Guts

Resolution is all about presenting new, often experimental works and Wednesday’s programme, featuring work by Caldonia Walton, Sofie Burgoyne and Julie Cunningham, was a prime example of the breadth of work it embraces, with three pieces, completely different in style and concept.

Caldonia Walton’s Living… in the Living Room opened the evening with a thoughtful exploration on the confines and conflicts of everyday life. The restricted, gestural movements of the ‘living room’, identified by a rug, lamp and two chairs, are presented in contrast to a sudden freedom the dancers embody as soon as they step outside of its boundaries.

It’s a relatively simple concept but through a combination of movement and voice Walton manages to capture the mundanity of our day to day tasks, our small personal debates and frustrations, with clarity and humour. Broken phrases of words and movement and a humorous ‘solo conversation’ where Walton repeatedly interrupts herself, create a stylised image of a kind of madness one can easily relate to. Living… in the Living Room has a very natural, human spirit and despite the sense that the performers never really escape the confines of their living space, there’s a touching suggestion that we can always find comfort and companionship in each other.


Can you watch a performance that doesn’t physically exist? Lulled by the soft tones of Sofie Burgoyne’s voice I would venture the answer to be yes.
Dancing together apart/Dancing apart together is a piece that requests its audience to engage their imagination. In the darkness Burgoyne talks her audience through the performance she wishes them to experience. Her words paint a vivid picture that moves from the physicality of our immediate surroundings to the increasingly surreal. Led with calm assurance, rising water and dismembered bodies soon become images conjured as easily as the theatre before us.

The piece is an invitation to let go, to experience rather than watch a performance. The audience have the freedom to create this piece as much as Burgoyne and, charmingly, it’s something that will be unique to each individual. It’s a concept that could easily fall apart but Burgoyne conducts the process with such unerring calmness and sensitivity that the result is a beautiful, meditative experience; a performance transcendent of its space and our expectations.


Guts, choreographed by Julie Cunningham, completes the evening’s varied bill. As a dancer Cunningham is an incredible technician. As well being a current member of Michael Clark Company she was also a long term dancer with Merce Cunningham Dance Company and the influence of these choreographer’s very particular styles are evident in her angular, precise choreography. Cunningham’s movement is unforgiving and exposing – the shapes and positions the dancers move through require strict placement and control. It’s a style of choreography that takes guts to perform but the exactness required leaves the movement, and the first half of the performance at least, with a somewhat stilted effect.

However, Cunningham’s careful spatial arrangements and slow, controlled pace suggest that this work intends to go somewhere. A gurgling, guttural noise finally breaks the controlled atmosphere and, driven by an upbeat song with humorous gut-related lyrics, the piece seems to finally let go. This sudden lightheartedness provides a much needed contrast to the seriousness of the opening, although neither half would be as strong without the other. Beneath the technical choreography there’s a consideration and intelligence to this work, which, accompanied by its understated comedy, offers much to enjoy.

Resolution continues at The Place until 19 February
www.theplace.org.uk



Rachel Elderkin is a freelance dancer and dance writer. She has written for a number of arts publications and regularly contributes to The Stage, Fjord Review and British Theatre Guide. Twitter: @Rachel_Elderkin

Photo: Julie Cunningham Deep Down by Chantal Guevara

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