Review: Shobana Jeyasingh’s 2Step and others

Performance: Aug 08
Reviewed by Libby Costello - Thursday 28 August 2008

Out of the blocks – into the abyss

With each passing Olympic year the hand over ceremony has become more than just a passing of the baton. Rather it has become a chance to trump the current hosts and wet the appetite of the world for the future.

London’s celebrations, watched by an estimate 7 million on the BBC and vast crowds throughout the city, were perhaps well intended but lacked the finesse of the performances which we unveil on the stages throughout the Capital every night of the week.

Off the beaten track from the main screen in Trafalgar Square and the celebrations on the Mall, the City of London Festival used Jazz, Circus, Dance and AfroReggae to welcome in the games in an artistic manor. The Steps of St Paul’s and Paternoster Square swayed to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama’s Metropolitan Music Jazz Orchestra as the activities got under way at 1pm. With a few old classic, the musicians even got some viewers to their feet.

The circus performers (provided by London Youth Circus) clothed in Asian Inspired costume, displayed their skills to whoops and cheers from the audience. Born entertainers the children’s personality shone through offering more than a juggling act.

The dance performance of the day, Shobana Jeyasingh’s 2Step, brought together student dancers from Central School of Ballet, Laban and the London Contemporary Dance School. With such a fabulous back drop the performance was given a sense of prestige as memories of the Cathedral in yester years flooded the mind.

Luckily it wasn’t raining as the dancers flimsy red costumes would have been no match to the British weather. Due to the relationship with the site this piece could not have been moved and therefore has fallen victim to the puddles once before.

The movement could not be categorised into any particular style nor fusion between styles. The unyielding steps prohibited any fast footwork or leaps, elements which have punctuated Jeyasingh’s work in the past. Instead Jeyasingh worked with the principals of geometry, formalism and opposing qualities to present statue like lifts, floor patterns and ephemeral arm gestures – much like a grounded synchronised swimming performance.

The dancers varied backgrounds stood out to create interest within the piece, yet their professionalism came through with their tight unison in both movement and style. The grandeur of the setting, coupled with the music by Andrzej Panufnik gave this piece a sense of purpose, overall a harmonious success for site specific dance.

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