Review: Retina Dance Company in This is not a body at The Place

Performance: 26 February 2008
Reviewed by Libby Costello - Friday 29 February 2008

A continuous flow of movement provided by Retina Dance Company filled the stark stage at the Place on Tuesday night. Filip Van Huffel’s new work, inspired by artists such as Rene Magritte and Yves Klein, was layered on to the six company members whose ability matched the demanding choreography. With an intention to stir an emotional response, this is not a body, was a title that became more of a question rather than a statement.

A male duet effortlessly opened the work, with a functional quality, as the two bare chest dancers lifted and turned each other in a warm light. The impact of the female duet that followed saw an energetic shift from floor to air set the structure for this piece – with a heavy focus on juxtaposition.

Ambitiously drawing on surrealist themes, Van Huffel collaborated with visual artist Brian Hartley and composers Axelle Keenes and Dave Boyd in order develop the finished product. The projection of artists’ impressions of the body – from close ups of limbs to single pencil lines at points became the focal point of the piece, as the waves of intricate choreography became tiring.

The lighting for the piece that mainly came from the projection, gave a rounded look. By either warming the dancers with a red/orange light or hardening the movement with a black back drop.

Most of the choreography, although intricate, was movement that we had seen before from Retina Dance Company. After the intensity of the opening duets, the group sections did not achieve the same quality, however lift work added interest and intrigue due to the unusual and gravity defying holds.

The piece felt overly long with the dancers continuously delivering new movement rather than showing much development. This is not a body felt as if the surrealist intentions were partially realised, through all the coming together of these collaborators – with no element having enough impact to stand alone.

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