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Justine Reeve and Company Outstanding and tactics

Rhiannon Brace Dance Baby

Simone Mousset Their Past


For Rhiannon Brace, motherhood was the necessity for invention. Her pregnancy leading to the birth of two “babies”; with son, Dylan, being followed by this autobiographical account of the early experiences of a self-confessed ‘clueless mother’! Her choreographic journey is unsurprisingly intimate, occasionally enigmatic but mostly, it is a literal and sentimental account of the emotional fluctuations of becoming a mother. Who would have thought that the sight of five mums disco-dancing to Tina CharlesI Love to Love, partnered by their offspring cradled in body-hugging harnesses, could be so effective? For sure, Brace must have broken all records for the youngest cast members at Resolution! Using three women of different ages as her main dancers was another quietly effective allusion to the generation game. It isn’t especially challenging but Brace sticks to her theme with an engaging tenacity (and a sizeable dollop of cuteness).

Brace’s Baby was preceded by another work conceived (and performed) by an experienced dance practitioner and, again, the value of that maturity was clear to see in another inventive, purposeful capsule of comedic dance theatre. Justine Reeve’s target was the CPD seminar/conference circuit complete with PowerPoint presentation, roll-top stands and all the jargon (neatly truncated into the absurd title Outstanding and tactics). Reeve’s entertaining solo was incisive lampooning, liberally punctuated by physical and oral humour (although some of her softly-spoken text was inaudible to me).

The evening’s pure dance was left to Simone Mousset’s travelogue of whimsical choreography inspired by living and working in Russia, Ukraine and the Lebanon. Long periods of silence were interspersed with the paradoxical music of Yuri Khanon, well-matched by Mousset’s inverted choreography. Two of the three performers wore voluminous red skirts over baggy white trousers, evocative costumes that were regularly whirled in the style of the Dervishes. This free-flowing dance was a refreshing contrast to the earlier works although it was a struggle to remain consistently absorbed.

Graham Watts

Justine Reeve offers a platter of well observed digs at the world of dance teaching in this witty and charming affair. A self-described spoof of professional training seminars, the piece brings the laughs with wry commentary (“I haven’t had any carbs for fifteen years...”) alongside bursts of eclectic choreography. Reeve’s solo performance is excellent, as both comedienne and dancer; enhanced by an accompanying soundtrack and mock poster. Even for those who have ever taught, or been taught, in a dance class, Outstanding and tactics delivers a fun, albeit accurate, parody of dance teaching.

The finale of Rhiannon Brace Dance’s piece Baby certainly lives up to it’s name. Throughout the work, Brace presents the varied emotions a mother is faced with during, and after pregnancy – although the choreography appears more pleasant than punchy. The real joy of Baby lies in the variety of performers: culminating with five mothers and their titular infants performing exuberant, if not quite classical, pas de deux onstage. Certainly unlike any other piece I’ve seen (as is the beauty of Resolution), Brace has created a piece that connects performers from a variety of ages and experiences to an equally diverse audience.

Closing the evening is Their Past, a work based around the interaction of folk and contemporary dance. Opening with Yuri Khanon’s arresting Middle Symphony, the dancers slowly begin to explore their own bodies and the space with delicate and articulate arm movements. Mousset develops this into a sophisticated trio, where the performers constantly shift and weave through the stage, as if caught up in some rotating mechanism. However, the material risks becoming too concerned with aesthetics instead of expressing the piece’s themes. On the other hand, the hypnotic sight of dancers twirling like whirling dervishes is a real treat.

William Bridgland


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