News & Blogs

19 January 2017
Author: Siobhan Murphy & Maria Hardcastle

Wed 18 Jan: Andrew Race Dance Company/Clara Sjolin/Bang Bang Bang Group

Andrew Race Dance  Company To Resolve

Clara Sjölin  I want to keep the cake but eat it (too)

Bang Bang Bang Group  Guns, Water, Monica Lewinsky


Disruption and dislocation were the forces driving the three Resolution pieces on Wednesday January 18. The Andrew Race Dance Company’s To Resolve is a work for six women, exploring emotional conflict. Race’s forceful, sinewy, very grounded choreography brings them together into supportive, entwining duets, solid synchronisations and, at one point, a conjoined mass, breathing as one – then drives them apart into defensive confrontations or isolation. The ebb and flow of this dynamic would be helped by more fluid links between the scenarios, and in some cases a better use of the stage. Race studs his piece with engaging shapings, but his dancers are not individually delineated enough for us to connect with them. The result is rather amorphous.

The Swedish choreographer Clara Sjölin, in contrast, has a definite structure for I want to keep the cake but eat it (too). It’s her response to Ingmar Bergman’s 1966 art-cinema classic, Persona, a portrait of identity in crisis and mental disintegration. Madeleine Jonsson and Ellen Slatkin circle each other in a series of fast-cut scenes, clearly echoing the film, as a destructive power play emerges. The piece gains strength as those scenes are allowed to lengthen, with some beautifully troubling, strenuous duets that transmit a palpable sense of menace.

Guns, Water, Monica Lewinsky, from Bang Bang Bang Group, is striking for how little the dance content occupies centre-stage. Three women narrators, scripts in hand, alternate to tell us, respectively, the story of Monica Lewinsky’s affair with Bill Clinton, a numbers-heavy history of mass migration, and the outline for an OTT Tom Cruise action film set in Aleppo. Meanwhile, the choreographer Quang Kien Van moves to their words, seemingly as the mood takes him, often with wry humour. He’s overwhelmed, though, by the energetic storytelling and compelling interplay between the narrators, making Van seem, sadly, like an afterthought in his own piece.

Siobhan Murphy

Andrew Race Dance Company’s To Resolve saw six powerful women battling with emotional conflict through the use of an animalistic vocabulary. A vast choreographic range revealed raw physicality which grounded the dancers as they shifted, fell, and tumbled through space. There were natural pauses of tranquillity and tenderness as the group discovered a sense of balance, then morphed into one collective body. These lulls in dynamic qualities provided relief from the aggressive and emotional turmoil that the company confronted. Nonetheless, the piece seemed to lack an emotional connection as the primal undertones had stripped away any sense of humanity.

However, any loss in humanity was quickly restored by Clara Sjölin’s I want to keep the cake but eat it (too). Through the lens of Ingmar Bergman’s film Persona (1966) a pair of women created a continuous power play which explored their identity, duality and sanity. Sjölin presented a series of disjointed but mundane scenes isolated within cubes of light. As pedestrian and creative movements evolved, psychological layers were uncovered, exposing insights to their duality. Delicate and evocative duets quickly flickered to a desperate sense of hopeless yearning and ultimately resulted in a furious rage as the duo hurled each other about with exceptional dexterity. This fragmented journey revealed an emotive power which seemed to hang in the air like an omen.

Bang Bang Bang Group combined Quang Kien Van’s choreographic talent with Debbie Hannan’s written skill to create Guns, Water, Monica Lewinsky. Hannan’s verbal score was presented by three vibrant actresses who described a muddled web of information to create an erratic newsfeed. Van demonstrated a jumbled movement style which jerked and convulsed to the spoken score. He periodically acknowledged the context and rhythm of the speech as if intermittently tuning into the overloaded news report. Unfortunately, his movement appeared disconnected from, and therefore overshadowed by, the chaotic stream of information which ultimately dominated attention.

Maria Hardcastle


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