Here they are:
I liked Chloe Aliyanni's Trivialis the best. Positive messages about overcoming personal challenges are a great subject for dance. This trio, thrown together by chance, told their individual stories well. Their portrayal of initial mutual suspicion transforming to mutual, life saving support was heartwarming. Eventually,their paths diverged again and they went off, happy and restored by each other, to continue their life journeys. It certainly resonated with me. When choreography says it all, it is beautiful.
18 out of 84 short shows is my Resolution! 2015 tally. Generally speaking there seemed to be more of an in-progress feel to much of the work I saw, but of a higher standard than has sometimes been the case. Playing favourites is inevitable. How best to do that? Since donning a curatorial hat in 2013 a couple of key questions tend to arise: ‘Would I want to see this performance again, and show it to others?’ From that angle my 2015 stand-outs are the melancholic mischief of Susan Kempster and Adam Foster’s Snow and the fine-cut ambiguities of Mara Vivas’ Triptych. Potential was evident in Ishimoi by Ishimwa’s Niyizi, The Ashes: Dance Collective’s Dancing Plague, Ella Mesma Company’s Orixas and others. More power to them all.
I have two favourite performances, I can't seem to choose. Love me Tender by Lea Tirabasso and Snow by Adam Foster and Susan Kempster had many elements in common, but stand unique in their final productions. Both had strong moments of irony and intelligent humour sprinkled through the work, making them well paced and captivating; I never found myself bored. At the core they also carried a strong helping of heart in their explorations of love, loss and failure: beauty and tragedy. The strength of the choreography was carried by the sincerity, physicality and curiosity of the performers and, when combined with their beautifully nuanced visual and sound design, both pieces were nothing short of delightful.
The marathon is run and all I remember is a collection of sprints across diverse landscapes. The enigma of Ishimoi by Ishimwa's Niyizi stayed with me from the beginning, in a vivid, unsentimental memoir of witnessing his mother’s death as a small child in Rwanda. Dance doesn’t get much more powerful in its account of life.
For mature dance theatre, superbly performed, I’ll cherish The Dancing Plague by The Ashes: Dance Collective; Chloe Aliyanni’s Trivialis; B-Hybrid’s Breaking Breath; and the all-new find of Alyssandra Katherine Wu’s intelligent choreography in Obstruct & Connect. And for fascinating dance theatre it has to be Léa Tiribasso’s poignant and sentimental half-glass-full account of relationships and the uninhibited sense of theatre and anarchic humour in A Dance for the End of The World by James Morgan and Charley Fone.
The piece that lingers in my mind is Hannah Buckley’s Woman with Eggs. This was a beautifully conceived solo that to me was the perfect mix of literal and abstract representations of motherhood. She used multiple mediums; storytelling, movement, voice recordings and props but it wasn’t too busy or overwhelming. It was funny and touching, and it sort of renewed the idea that a solo performance doesn’t have to be a selfish act of the performer. The smashing of the golden eggs on the stage was unexpected and radically different from any of the other works I got to see. I could tell she had a really strong idea and theme and a lot of thought and editing went into her process. Honourable mentions go to PINCH’s Asking for it, also funny but poignant and very current, and Jayne Port’s Most Certainly Well Worth Knowing for her highly entertaining and successful mix of theatre and dance.
I loved the insatiable appetite of Luke Brown for crisps and popcorn in Ashleigh Berry’s Beside Ourselves. He managed to keep munching steadily while dancing an intricate duet on and off a bench with Mary Mannion. Zosia Jo in Herstory. Her voice was seductive and compelling, as she narrated a story of a passionate relationship that unexpectedly culminated in violence. Her confessional tone and honest stage presence was a winner for me. While less remarkable movement accompanied, it complemented the riveting text with its unadorned simplicity.
My ‘honourable’ mention is Shelly Brittle (Anthony Lo-Guidice’s The Teeth Behind the Kisses) – her movements were executed with such vital force and fluidity that she seemed to dance in one continuous, surging wave of motion.
My Resolution was a series of near misses - plenty of inspired moments not one finished article. But then, that’s the point of Resolution. The safest thing is to trust what the memory stores, so here are the edited highlights:
Most of my Resolution-going – heck, most of my dance-going – is spent watching, considering and writing up. Loving, sadly, is often low priority or, to be honest, absent. But there were three works in Resolution! 2015 I rather loved; and that made me happy. They were different as can be: Yukiko Masui’s Unbox as elusive and electrifying as lightning; Marguerite Galizia’s brainiac Where Am I? as highly constructed as the thought-experiment that inspired it; Joel O’Donoghue and Pete Yelding’s Dragging Words as mystical and as weirdly meaningless as a mantra.
Did they have anything in common? Perhaps just this: a real sense of a mind getting to grips with material. They were thoughtful, they were worked through, and they were embodied in highly articulate physical performances. Oh, and I guess they all had that other thing that I love: the thing that you just can’t explain.
I think the piece I enjoyed the most was the very first piece on the first night of Resolution! Review. I was captivated by Ishimoi by Ishimwa’s Niyizi muttering and writhing on the floor. I was impressed with his ability to be personal without being obtuse or self-righteous, with elements of humour as well as poignancy. He seemed to me like a ‘true’ dancer (whatever that means) and I found his movements beautiful, even to abstract sound effects. As a relative newcomer to contemporary dance, about to embark on a review-writing programme, my enjoyment of his performance was probably also mixed up with a sense of relief that it was going to be something that I could connect with – and find some words to say about it.
Marguerite Galizia Where am I? had a methodical and cohesive structure which made for a direct and effective performance. It was also used very cleverly in the way it first set up and then subverted our expectations – creating a very active audience. The concept (if your brain and body were physically separated but still communicated via transceivers, where would 'you' be?) was interesting and had a great deal of substance. Moreover, it felt that this idea was very thoroughly explored and developed – contrasting with a lot of the pieces in Resolution! which I felt to be lacking a depth of investigation. Our attention was also engaged and maintained by Dan Watson who was a compelling performer and dancer.
I'm jumping on Francesca's band wagon and throwing my weight behind Love Me Tender choreographed by Lea Tirabasso. Laced with humour and with lingering poignancy, Tirabasso exposes the cultural and gendered expectations of romance. My second stand out piece was Expanding Foam, choreographed and performed by Gabriella Catalano and Paolo Rosini. Packed with delicious moments, their silky bodies merged and expanded in an eloquent duet. Both pieces were mature and absorbing with well-formed ideas, articulate choreography and high performance values.