The reassuringly familiar is such a comfort in uncertain times. One reason to be cheerful that each New Year welcomes the re-emergence of Resolution! It's not just the festival with the largest content of new dance, but the habitual – yet diverse - ways in which that dance presents itself that we welcome like a long-lost lover.
In this opening trio of contrasting works, the determined and earnest resolution of Resolution presenters not to patronise or spoon-feed their audience remains paramount. We are challenged to make sense of it all with minimal clues and, as always, it becomes a satisfying inquiry.
Self-choreographed solos are a staple and the first of the 81 new works to be seen, in 2018, was from that inventory. Usually, I'm not so keen on this undiluted individualism but Mathieu Geffré is an artist with pedigree, bringing depth, experience and impactful movement quality to ACT; a choreographic examination of the art of creation, opening with lines from Dylan Thomas' In The Beginning and incorporating a brief interlude of origami.
Kendall Farrell's Submerged continued another tradition of asking many questions without attempting answers: her programmes notes simply list seven rhetorical questions about the state of being overwhelmed. Four female performers spiral downwards in an accelerated journey of angst, their distress accentuated by James Keane's effective, bespoke score and a brief concluding burst of strobe lighting. Strong performances all round with recent Laban graduate, Flora Grant, exhibiting a captivating quality of unrelenting, fluid movement punctuated by realistic, involuntary spasms.
Lucy Palmer reached an even higher plane of professionalism with The Left Hand Path; a work that stretched out to the maximum time of 25 minutes but used every second well. It was also strongly performed, this time by four guys, within a structure that enabled each to own the spotlight. Kennedy Junior Muntanga excelled in a solo that isolated and exploded muscles most of us don't appear to have. A travelling doorway augmented Palmer's spatial eclecticism with "film-noir" lighting and strong music adding lustre to a highly polished piece.
If you’re searching for that perfect balance between strength and grace, I strongly recommend Mathieu Geffré Dance. Kick-starting the opening night of Resolution 2018, Geffré enters the single spotlight with a presence that sends shivers down my spine. Seamlessly transitioning between obscure, distorted positions, his movement quality is captivating and impressive. The piece has a lot to offer, with sections that are both moving and amusing; some even taking you back to childhood! A poignant piece, Act left me with high expectations for the rest of the night...
And Kendall Farrell’s Submerged certainly delivered! A combination of uncomfortably shrill music and dynamic movement enveloped the audience in a fully immersive experience throughout. The dancers radiated frantic energy through full embodiment of their material and incredible stamina, to the extent that I as a viewer, felt overwhelmed watching them! Although the strobe lighting may have been a tad predictable, the overall piece drew me in from beginning to end.
And what an end it was, as Lucy Palmer Dance rounded off the first night of the festival with an enchanting performance. The audience is invited by a mysterious doorframe that sets the stage. As the dancers begin their fluid movement, I find I am following an invisible ball of energy that ripples through their bodies. There is a strong sense of connection between the dancers, shown not only by the tight unison sections but also by their internal and external sensitivity towards each other. The movement material reappeared at various points throughout the piece, yet was transformed each time by the soundtrack complimenting it. A quirky end to an impressive night, the triple bill set the bar high for what promises to be a thoroughly entertaining festival.