Once in a blue moon, along comes a performance that makes you sit up and pay unwavering attention. Yukiko Masui’s Unbox is one such. There is not an inch of slack in this sixteen minute solo. The piece is ordered with inexorable logic. It opens in silence; progresses to the sound of a low electronic pulse; increases its densities of texture and rhythm; returns to silence. The stage is set with a sharp square of light, and shifts through ambiences with sidelights, washes and circular spots before returning to the square. Masui begins in a hoodie that shadows her face, and at each section peels off another layer: hoodie, top, t-shirt. If the framework grips, it’s Masui’s dancing that transfixes. She imparts the same electric clarity to tiny tremors as to explosive falls, the same intensity of poise and attack to tumbling spirals as to baring a forearm, or flicking her fingers. A riveting solo that deserves wider exposure.
With its hybrid dance style, clear lighting and atmospheric music enlivened with rhythm, Mountain Tsunami’s Myth seems to aim for some similar qualities as Unbox, but falls far short by comparison. Shirtless Eden Collet begins like a dynamic shaolin monk, then sits cross-legged like some hunky buddha. Four figures snake towards him; choreographer David Waker takes up the sitting pose; there is some combative action among the three women. Though stylistically interesting, the work is sapped by its bland music, and its unfathomable story and symbolism.
Sean Graham’s Foreign Bodies/RaceTracks is a series of broad-brushstroke, broadly comedic sketches on the subject of racial integration and competition in Britain. There’s a potentially clever set-up here, with a white English host and a variety of people of immigrant origin as runners in his race. But its stock-types look like stereotypes, its references range too glibly from 1981 Brixton to 2014 Ferguson, by way of decolonisation and ebola, and its Union Jack just looks… dated. A high point: the ear-wincing scrape of a chair against the floor, showing just how grating the N-word feels.