Next Door by aKa Dance Theatre Company has the ‘fly on the wall’ feeling suggested in the programme, exploring the two performers’ relationship without acknowledgement of an audience. There are sections of play-fighting, in which the dancers chase each other around a sofa, mischievously intertwining and breaking free in a way that is delightfully immature. In between are sustained moments of separation, broken eye contact, and an unsettling undercurrent of seriousness. There is potential for a work like this to become tedious. However, the performers are so well-connected that their relationship is utterly believable and to watch it develop is infinitely interesting.
oh, and one more thing..., by Poekert & Bysheim, explores boundaries, structures, and systems. The dancers are shown confined within squares of light, staring straight ahead and walking slowly with exaggerated hip motions. Gradually they move between squares, a rather literal expression of the theme of boundaries. Select dance vocabulary is used and the repetition of certain movements draws attention to minute differences, perhaps translating to ‘pushing’ the boundaries. The ideas are clear, but perhaps too plainly put. oh, and one more thing... falls into the trap of sameness, becoming repetitive and predictable in the latter part, and lacking the development which would extend its ideas and better engage the audience.
Unlike the other works, the ideas explored in BAMBULAproject’s Building the Route Between Me and You are less clear, leaving much to audience interpretation. There are threads of building and creation, and a strong sense of ensemble and unity. Particularly striking is the final image, where the sixteen puzzle pieces used throughout are formed into a circle by the four performers, who then stand up, already within it. I am tentative to give a label to this piece, as it functions beautifully if one sits back and watches it without expectation. However, whatever their intended purpose, BAMBULAproject succeeds in ending the evening on an uplifting note via their powerfully connected final image.
Anna Rachael McBride
As the lights come up on Next Door, a sofa sits centre stage. It’s an item of furniture that suggests staid living room dramas, but aKa Dance Theatre Company transforms it into a third player in this compelling study of one couple’s relationship. It pirouettes, tips on its side, embraces or ejects the two lovers who clamber over it. Throughout, Jennifer Grant’s playful and often surprising choreography tiptoes the fine line between flirtation and frustration. Curling their bodies around one another, Joe Garbett and Sally Smithson are teasing one moment, stony serious the next. Without words or even music, they suggest all the ways in which love can both make you soar and tug you painfully back down to earth.
In the second duet of the evening, Poekert & Bysheim’s oh, and one more thing…, the two dancers are held apart by rigid external structures. Stark shafts of light carve up the stage, restricting Sarah Poekert and Lisa Colette Bysheim to their own small portions of space. Beginning with micro-movements that gradually expand outwards, the two performers push at these boundaries, seeking fleeting moments of connection. The central idea, though, is more interesting than its stiffly repetitive execution.
Connection and disconnection are also key themes in Building the Route Between Me and You. BAMBULAproject are interested in how we piece together fragmented societies, a process represented visually on stage by a series of interlocking tiles. Sliding these tiles around the space and slotting them into different formations, the four dancers explore both isolation and togetherness. In one absorbing sequence, two of the performers create winding paths for their fellow dancers, slowly bridging the distance between them. While the dramaturgy of the piece as a whole would benefit from more clarity, at its best it speaks powerfully to how individuals connect and collide in the modern world.