Tonight’s triple bill is an eclectic mix of works which question the purpose and definition of dance. The Creative Act, by Christopher Owen is a twenty-minute-long sequence with links to performance art. In it, Owen plays the piano, DJs, and moves about the space, while words are projected upon the cyclorama for various lengths of time. It is tempting to try and make sense of these acts, but, given their unconnected nature, this is difficult. Owen is intentionally challenging us, pushing the boundaries of dance beyond audience expectations, and exposing it to new horizons.
That’s Not How He Wants It features more familiar movement vocabulary, which is beautifully executed by Dillon Dance. Through fluid sections in which the dancers weave together, and moments of unison dancing, the theme of group unity is expressed. However, following a false ending, the dancers break formation and dance with a wild and punchy energy until they all fall on the floor. This section contradicts the previously developed ideas, for reasons unclear. On a technical level, the piece is magnificent to watch. Its coda is its downfall, and, without it, Dillon Dance might more clearly express its message.
The final piece, Behind Me, by The Rebirth Network uses hip hop to explore addiction. Highs and lows are expressed via the interactions between lead dancer Daniel 7 and his troupe. One moment he stands centre stage with confidence. The next, as the music bleeps into jarring electronica, his confidence disintegrates, shown by the staggered movements of both him and his dancers. The visual and musical representations of addiction make the audience understand what it might feel like. Thus, when Sarah Amankwah delivers her compelling rap-monologue, she simply puts words to the audience’s experience. She wills us to take ownership of the issue and to tell its story. It is the hope-infused final message of the evening, encouraged by the fact that we are already watching such stories be told, here at Resolution.
Anna Rachael McBride
“The creative act,” as Marcel Duchamp famously asserted, “is not performed by the artist alone.” Art – and performance particularly – needs audiences to come to life. Opening the evening in baffling style, Christopher Owen’s new piece has taken Duchamp’s mantra to heart. Choreographing music, sound, video and text, as well as the movements of his own body, Owen creates an assault on the senses. The burden of meaning lies entirely with the audience. This, strange, puzzling piece acts as an association machine, its fleeting flashes of video and text daring us to make mental connections between disparate images and ideas.
Disparate is a word that jumps to mind again watching That’s Not How He Wants It. Individual sequences in Dillon Dance’s offering are all beauty and control. The female performers assume poses of fixed elegance, locked in place like ballerinas in jewellery boxes. In other scenes, they break free, their movements implying both strength and frustration. The title is suggestive of women’s roles in society and the extent to which these are still determined by men, but this theme is hinted at rather than fully realised, while the scenes themselves feel only loosely connected.
The clarity that’s wanting elsewhere is finally found in the night’s concluding piece, The Rebirth Network’s Behind me. This fusion of hip-hop, dance theatre and spoken word vividly evokes an inner world of competing voices and personal demons. There’s a rare dynamism and chemistry to this ensemble, who work brilliantly together to command the stage. Bodies convulsing to distorted beats, the performers create a haunting and compelling vision of hidden turmoil, all building to an urgent final message. Unlike the Rubik’s Cube that various company members grasp in their hands, dance is not there to be solved, but The Rebirth Network welcome audiences into the puzzle rather than locking them, bewildered, outside it.