28 January 2017
Author: Siobhan Murphy & Maria Hardcastle

Fri 27 Jan: Carolyn Bolton/Tanztheater Adrian Look/Humanah Productions

Carolyn Bolton Where Things End and Ends Meet

Tanztheater Adrian Look Fathers and Sons

Humanah Productions Community

Carolyn Bolton’s Where Things End and Ends Meet explored the anxiety in severing emotional ties with a past lover. Bolton and Jacob O’Connell performed to a repeated spoken score which described the emotional progression of a former relationship. Exquisite control was accomplished whilst the dancers negotiated a physically demanding and thrilling vocabulary, whilst also mastering the restraint of a red band that tethered them. In spite of their physical bond, there remained an unsettled air between the pair as they dismissed each other’s presence and strained to be liberated from their confinement. Their futile battle for closure lingered as the lights faded leaving them desperately clinging onto the red shackle.

Adrian Look’s Fathers and Sons honoured a ‘Tanztheaterian’ portrayal of the tales of absent fathers. Five male dancers approached the heartrending theme with a series of playful scenarios revealing the gaping voids in their acquired knowledge due to the absence of paternal guidance. This light hearted and fairly humorous tone soon diminished to reveal dynamic and expressive movement driven by the emotional response of individual and collective struggles. An ominous silhouetted father figure overlooked the space as a projected digital backdrop which seamlessly synchronised with the dancers. However, it became overwhelmed by psychedelic effects and ultimately distracted the eye. Their anguish was resolved as each dancer revisited their initially floored endeavours with a new sense of affirmed identity formed in the face of abandonment.

The pace of the evening mellowed as Humanah Productions took to the stage with Community. Daniel Persson and his eight dancers took an inquisitive approach in understanding individual identity within a community by creating a thread of spoken thoughts. These spontaneous confessions created a staccato soundscape as they disrupted the harmonious co-existence established through their tranquil movement. The company meandered around their ideas, never discovering a common conclusion, but indulging a primal need to belong.

Maria Hardcastle

There was an international feel to the line-up for Resolution on January 27 - and a strong sense of relationships going under the knife. Carolyn Bolton, an American artist working with Rambert, zeroes in forensically on a sexual relationship gone sour with her unsettling duet, Where Things End and Ends Meet. Bolton and Jacob O’Connell project a pugnacious power in short solos before tethering themselves together with a red elastic looped cord. The dynamic is deeply uneasy; flickers of synchronicity dying into the violent enmity of two people who can’t escape their emotional entanglement. A tricksy recorded narrative adds to the sense of things out of joint. Bolton’s impressive choreography is highly demanding – at ten minutes, it’s still a draining experience.

A potent blast of tanztheater – the “dance theatre” style of Pina Bausch – provides the highlight of the evening. The German choreographer Adrian Look’s Fathers and Sons is an exploration of what it means to grow up with an absent father. Drawing on personal experience, the five performers weave wryly humorous depictions of what their dads weren’t there to teach them (how to tie a tie, iron a shirt, shave, swim, etc) with intense danced meditations on the different sorts of emotional damage that missing relationship wrought. The desperate lamentation in Phoenix Chase-Meares’s solo is heartbreaking, as is Songhay Toldon’s impotent battle with a projected silhouette. But the sheer joyfulness of the work’s resolution will bring a tear to your eye.

Where the first two pieces were clearly an idea honed to a fine point, the Scandi-British Humanah Productions’ Community felt distinctly less polished. Another collaborative piece, between the choreographer Daniel Persson and his eight dancers, it presented their woolly, meandering thoughts on community and identity in the 21st century, paired with rather baggy, aimless group dance pieces. A case, you fear, of too many cooks spoiling the broth.

Siobhan Murphy


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