Pierre Tappon is best known as a dancer with Rambert and Richard Alston, but here he turns choreographer with Wall, a solo for dancer Daniel Davidson. It's a thoughtfully composed work of clear intentions: a trapped man railing against the walls around him. Davidson – a precise and articulate dancer – pushes, falls and sprawls, his curling body arching against the single white wall on stage. His shadow forms another character, along with flautist Emma Williams playing Bach. The cool logic of the music may be at odds with the dramatics of Wall's climax, but this is a short, simple and strong work.
Joel & Pete's In Good Company is an altogether more curious prospect. What starts as an earnest duet between two male protagonists turns into a deadpan amusement inspired by the real-life characters who commune on the Seaford seafront. There is fishing, golf and bingo calling, all cued by musician Pete Yelding, who creates the soundtrack live on stage with electric cello and walkie-talkies. Little explicitly happens, but it's warmly likeable and increasingly engaging as the show goes on, with a low-key English eccentricity that matches its subject matter.
The Company's Lee Griffiths is clearly a talented choreographer, and she has gathered some excellent dancers for the night's finale, Behind Every Man. It feels as if there is a brilliant piece here, but some of its ideas are undercooked or obscured. Rooted in street dance, the most instantly arresting movement is fast, glitchy and krumpy, but Griffiths has a more expansive palette, working with earthy contemporary flow, and at one point a hip hop/ballroom merger. There are striking images: a couple with legs wrapped around each other, intensely sensual then stuttering with pleasure; a woman digging her fingers into her man's cheeks, pulling at his lips and throat. The mood is charged, challenging and frustrated; this is a choreographer who has something to say, and with tighter focus that voice could come through more audibly.
Pierre Tappon, dancer with Rambert kicked off Saturday’s performance with Wall, a ten minute work in which the soloist (acrobatic and athletic Daniel Davidson) “explores the walls of his inner emotional world.” Whilst the movement required dexterous technical skill – unsurprising due to Tappon’s credentials – it was not merely a display of ability, but an intelligent collage of images exploring the concepts of physical and mental confinement. The sound score of a Bach Partita performed live on stage was accompanied by the poignant thuds of the dancer battering himself against minimalist staging, and this combined with creative lighting decisions defining the space and casting ominous shadows, created an intriguing, considered - if at times over-dramatized - work.
The following piece by Joel & Pete, with Inky Cloak began as an enigma. Earnest performances of abstract movement by the two performers led to a duet which created interesting physical relationships, yet it was initially unclear how this connected to the choreographer’s stimulus of Seaford Beach. However, as In Good Company progressed, the seaside allusions became increasingly apparent, fingers traced the floor as if drawing in sand, and there was even a humorous scene in which PJ Hurst delivered bingo phrases with sharp comic timing. The charm, chemistry and likeability of the three performers (including playful Pete Yelding mixing music onstage) permeated throughout the work, and their innate ability to win over the audience was reflected in the bountiful applause.
Feminism and gender issues are exceptionally broad, exhaustive stimuli for artistic discussion, and whilst increasingly relevant in dance, the enormity of these subjects, nobly tackled by The Company, proved challenging to explore in sufficient depth in a 20 minute dance work. Despite this, Behind Every Man contained many examples of creative insight, including an opening sensual-cum-aggressive duet with two dancers engulfed by a plastic sheet (seemingly a metaphor for female commodification) and inspiring moments fusing contemporary, ballroom and urban styles, which were refreshing and organic.