Spun Through Shadows, creation of choreographer Thea Stanton, claims to explore the dark side of human consciousness. Whilst this theme is apparent through entangling duets, suggesting the performers are two halves of one whole warring for dominance, the success of this piece should be attributed to the technicality of the dancers and it's frantic, dreamlike atmosphere, established through the accumulation of intense focus from the dancers, ambient music and supportive lighting, plunging the stage into darkness half way through movements, leaving the audience to wonder at the result of falls and lifts.
In contrast to the dark mystery presented by Spun Through Shadows Collective, Mahar and Mielech set a stark, bright scene. Society's obsession with perfection is the stimulus of I’mperfect, and as formulaic walking patterns are established, the performers present their bodies for inspection, submitting to the audience’s analytical gaze. The movement hints at occupation with bodily aestheticism, yet there is a sense that this could be explored in further depth or with greater clarity, as at times the relationship between the performers appears to have clear sexual connotations, adding a undertone which is intriguing, yet appears unaware of itself.
The evening culminates with The People We Didn’t Quite Meet choreographed by Jayne Port, who presents an eccentric jumble of images mixing the extraordinary with the ordinary. The audience can easily identify with the exaggerated, comical excerpts from everyday London life: performers bumping into each other whilst engrossed in mobiles, “tube annoyance” including nail-biting, hair-flicking and noisy conversations. However, we have never before seen a pregnant elephant or sabretooth penguins in Camden as described in one humorous anecdote. This juxtaposition of fantasy and reality creates a tension that leads spectators to question what fascinations they are failing to notice, establishing a poignant comment on the introspective nature of today’s society.
As the violinist walks onto the darkened stage to join the other players in Spun Through Shadows Collective’s string quartet, we know that Spun Through will be a work of intensity and intrigue. Dancers Gordon Raeburn and Verena Shneider are locked together in a needy, knotty duet, driven forcibly by the shrill, rousing strings and an inner kinetic power. They dance urgently though the shadowy lighting, investigating their own demons. As they surf over each other’s bodies, they morph into one being only to separate again violently. It’s a visceral portrayal of Carl Jung’s notion of The Shadow, and together with the musicians they delve deep into that troubled and obscure part of the subconscious.
Another tightly choreographed duet by Oliver Mahar and Gosia Mielech sees a couple deconstruct bodily perfection and its concerns with beauty, balance and harmony. Wearing pristine white sports shirts, Mahar and Gosia walk in strict geometric patterns, their physicality contained and precise. However a lengthy blast of strobe lighting messes with their mathematical organisation and immaculate presentation. From then on they perform large, sensuous and chaotic movements. Although their performance presence is detached, their contact with each other is now tactile, even erotic. I’mperfect is strangely alluring despite being emotionally bland.
It’s always daunting when there are too many ideas in a piece. Jayne Port’s People We Didn’t Quite Meet is a scrap book of random observations, glimpses into other people’s lives and bizarre occurrences. Inconsequential events that are without origin or destiny. However Port’s performers are an engaging bunch and together they create dance theatre which is mostly delightful. Actions respond wittily to whatever topic appears: a pregnant elephant, Pina, loose lips, tube annoyance. Some of this material is literal, some abstract. Although the novelty of these themes grows a little weary and People We Didn’t Quite Meet begins to tire, it’s a charming concoction of physicalized limericks.