Coegi Rural Living
ODD Company Ahimsa
The three women of ODD Company huddle together in the dim lighting, slowly functioning like one big amoeba. Their clasping arms possessively wrap around each other in slow motion. In their white plastic head braces they could either be Sci- fi goddesses, (optimistic) or brain-surgery patients, (depressing). Pulsating, ambient music further adds to a smothering, sluggish vibe which would be hard to endure for another fifteen minutes. Luckily this traumatised trio do finally break away from each other, scattering across the stage in twitchy, nervous motifs which convincingly explore the effects of trauma on interpersonal relationships. Ahimsa with its Buthoesque sensibility would be better suited to a more intimate venue but it’s a brave endeavour.
It’s ironic that the meaning of Coegi is the Latin for ‘bring together’ when in actual fact there is complete disconnection between the company’s four performers. Two skilled musicians and a couple of equally competent dancers, Grace Nicol and Wilfred Petherbridge play with apples (from Herefordshire) and relate splintered recollections of rural walks but nothing develops from these acts. Several potentially interactive moments are ignored and quirky ideas soon fizzle out. Rural Living underuses its collaborators and leaves us feeling cheated.
SICK AND TIRED surprisingly alleviates the feelings that its title suggests, not so much by astoundingly articulate, up-beat choreography but by the artistry of its four individual dancers. Although some of their actions are too random, (shouting out names of disturbing noisy animals and objects, or undressing male dancer Alessio Cappelli), the performers nevertheless tackle some adventurous lifts and partner work as if their lives depended on it. It’s really a piece about people going mad - and annoying each other, but effective choice of music – Max Richter and Leonard Cohen plus daring, pleasingly unpredictable dancing, keeps energy and interest levels raised.
In Rural Living Grace Nicol lines up a dozen apples on the floor, moving them about in an orderly way while Theo Samsworth’s yoga inspired dancing stirs his memories of a Herefordshire orchard. But his fellow performers deny him the satisfaction of verbally sharing them. The two musicians finally scatter crates of apples over the stage, the fruit now symbolising reminiscences that were not valid because no one else could remember them. Donning garish wigs, the two dancers gyrate through an apple strewn floor. I preferred their impressive hip wiggles to the wigs and overall would have liked more coherence to squeeze out more cider, less vinegar.
In Sick and Tired four performers danced with much fluidity and grace while remaining oblivious to each other. Dark blue costumes and golden lighting emphasise their expressive hand and arm movements which indicate their individual mad obsessions. Pleasing use of space and distance meant they created a coherent tableau even when dancing alone. We are all part of a bigger picture even when we don’t realise it, seemed to be the message.
Towards the end words vied with the music, diluting the effect.'The cure for the world’s ills is change. There is no change without reason. There is no reason without sanity’ intoned the male lead before being stripped to his underpants to a version of Silent Night. How do we know who is sane and who isn’t? It made me think.
Ahimsa, from the Sanskrit meaning ‘not to injure’ is a brave attempt at something different. Three dancers wearing white Sci-fi costumes with helmets portray the effects of trauma, scarcely moving on the stage, standing stuck closely together, while loud violent sound overpowers both them and the audience. At last they start to move a little and eventually - to my relief - even stretch out their limbs. Whether trauma is slight or great, physical, mental or emotional, they conveyed its ability to overwhelm and paralyse. Finally they seemed to recover through the healing power of touch, mutual support, and sheer resilience. A powerful piece but pointless as entertainment.