Review: Cloud Dance Festival: Restless at Jackson's Lane Theatre

Performance: 25 April 2009
Reviewed by Eshani Shriya Zakaria - Wednesday 13 May 2009

Saturday night at Jacksons Lane was a burgeoning event as the enthusiastic audience took their seats swiftly, inundating the theatre elegantly. Cloud Dance Festival, now into its third year, had programmed ‘Restless’ with a compilation of some exciting contemporary dance companies, choreographers and dancers to stimulate, entertain and challenge the intellect over three successive evenings. The first performance on Saturday evening commenced with Crave Company’s “Brutal Affinity”, a duet created and performed by Claudia Palazzo and Merlyn Perez-Silva. We see an affiliation created with a guitar, and the two dancers’ striking cord of intimacy, with contact movement involving all three or distancing off individually in space. There was immense vigorous physical movement vocabulary interacting and synthesizing with sound, elating to a dynamic state. The stunning breath-taking second piece by The Truth Trading Company, “Washed”, was performed by Jennifer Essex and choreographed by the dancer and Natasha Torre-Garner. This mesmerizing solo performance was utterly engaging that it left no room for our thoughts to wander off. Essex’s vibrant dance displayed detail with intricacy, clarity and precision. This was dance theatre at its preeminence, incorporating sound, inspirational words, expression both physical as well as visual, and a performer who excelled the norm. It was so easy to get absorbed by this solo performance due to its great craftsmanship and competent technique. In Jessica Green’s “Kaleid/Collide” we see entry and exit, collision and impact. Interesting concept and choreography, presenting the six dancers in delightfully fashioned combinations such as solo, duet, trio and the entire company, constantly transforming shapes and sculpting new structures. The work displayed shifting patterns where sometimes they meet and other times they miss the impact by changing directions. Vigorous, exhilarating movement combined with witty choreography left an enduring impression. “Hjemme”(Home), choreographed and performed by Maria Korsnes of KORSNESkompani was another attention-grabbing solo work. It launched with the stage area all dark except for a specific use of space, with an off-centre square of light in the foreground right side, and a book on the floor in front of the dancer; she danced within this lit square but behind the book. The book appeared as a symbolic representation of the past and memories, with the choreography depicting the reflection of this past’s impact. Subsequently, upstage right spot was selected for the use with a stool as a prop but this time with full lights on. The physically powerful use of body with sharp, swift, exuberant expressions of movement captivated the enthralled audience. After the interval we were presented with a powerful, engulfing and dexterous work by Cloud Dance called “Come out to show them”. The recurring line of music crossed with an incessant projection of moving images which intersected with the five dancers in white pleated dresses and heads covered with white bandage-like straps. The inveterate rhythm dominated the viewer’s attention, creating both relishing monotony on one hand and complex modalities at play simultaneously. The dance language also made use of the repetitive notion that formed a twist on the background images that flickered emblematic fantasies, influencing us to shift our consideration from the foreground dancers to the video projection concurrently. “Mixology”, choreographed by Olivia Vella and performed by Rancid Ance, was received enthusiastically by the onlooking viewers. Four chairs, four dancers in the central point of the stage in a square lit box, conceivably four metres squared. The remainder of the stage was in darkness, and the initial part of the performance took place in this box. This was a remarkable choreography that was executed by some amazingly brilliant dancers both in terms of their defined, distinctive technique and paramount oomph, with absolutely magnificent contact work depicting intimacy and flirtatious characters. Seemingly an extremely dynamic and vibrant performance, this piece left the audience with a fulfilled appetite and an awestruck experience as they applauded with contentment. “Aziyade” performed by Random Transformations Dance Company, was the evening’s only weak performance. Viewers were getting bored and a few actually left during the show. A choreography that emerged disjointed, combined with weak solos as well as weak group dances, collectively resulted into a poorly-executed and delivered concept. At one point it felt like watching a beginners’ class of contact improvisation. It was too long in duration especially when the conception was at a stagnant point, dormant and underdeveloped. It was an immense delight to see Hagit Yakira’s “Oh Baby”. A duet exploring the idea of relationship both with the self and the other, with contrasting elements of real and not real, with passion combining strength and subtlety. The use of sound, voice, text and foreign language dared us to experience a melodious bemusement, enticing and alluring us to connect with the performer into this intense moment. A technically potent, artistically innovative piece that attains a deeper level of complexity, breaking boundaries: this can only be conceived by a talented artist. Funny, playful, and dynamic, it challenged us to step outside the box, with thought-provoking, beautifully conceptualized choreography. Overall, this evening’s platform delivered some remarkable works, leaving us feeling enthused, inspired, stirred, gratified, humoured and indulged: a show definitely worth experiencing.

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