I immediately warm to a company who go by the name of Boadicea Dance. Rhimes Lecointe’s warrior women win the prize tonight for sheer female force: seventeen bodies on stage, moving with attitude. Visceral, punchy poetry is woven into a sampled collage of pulsing hip-hop beats and husky R&B. The young women display their skills in a creative mix of commercial street dance which mobilises them across the stage in tightly organised lines or clusters. They attack the choreography with voguing arms and juddering torsos. However although Resilience strives to express female empowerment and struggle, there’s little solidarity amongst the group. An absence of supportive contact or exchange of facial expressions weakens the well intentioned messages. For power there has to be team effort.
In comparison the three hipster women in Justine Reeve’s Living is Dancing are a close-knit trio who support each other through the ordeals of a dance audition. Their bodies rippling with energy, they cut up the stage a treat with expansive travelling steps and leaps infused with heaps of humour and neurotic agonising; keen to communicate the roller-coaster life of a professional dancer. It’s brilliant to experience their eccentric performance styles, their lack of fear about looking stupid (pants over tracksuits, knitted hats and ridiculous wigs) and their gutsy personalities. Although the piece is literally all over the place and loses focus, it showcases an admirable group of women.
Shaun Dillon’s brave solo reveals his tremendous technical virtuosity. Fuelled by nostalgia, loss and yearning his journey through Hiraeth combines moments of reflective stillness and angry eruptions. Choreographed karate kicks and spins propel him through space or hurl him into the floor. In another scene he desperately attempts to piece together a pile of broken pottery discarded in the corner. It’s a desolate image. However sometimes his professionalism masks the rawness of what he is trying to communicate. A recorded voice-over informs us about his mother’s recent death, but we don’t need to hear so many words as his trauma is communicated clearly enough through actions.
Lots of strong and direct declarations filled the roundup tonight, with all the artists using voice-over techniques to provide structure for their works.
Justin Reeve and Company started the night off with Living is Dancing, a comedy of three women trying to survive the dance audition process, and designed for a student audience. The dancers were bold and distinct in their characters, portraying a plethora of delightfully fun scenes and stories. While this snippet-style of composition and vague narrative structure often aided the pace and added humor, it occasionally made the work feel a bit scattered all over the place and odd to follow. It was enjoyable nonetheless, and will do well for a young audience.
A man stands alone at the front of the stage, telling a story with his hands. He kneels before shattered pottery, trying to fit the pieces together, and boxes his shadow on the wall. Then he comes back to where he began, and tells us that is mother is dead. Hiraeth, choreographed and performed by Shaun Dillon, was danced with beautiful fluidity and power, attempting to portray his sense of loss and grieving. These strong emotions, however, sometimes seemed to be overly displayed to the audience and acted. The most touching moment of the work was when he simply stood in the light, and let his feelings exist as they were.
Resilience, presented by Boadicea Dance Company, featured a large cast of women of different ages and ethnicities, coming together to portray the struggles and triumphs of women as individuals and as a force. The work, though lacking in finesse and a strong compositional framework, was approachable and entertaining, utilizing a lively mixture of hip-hop and contemporary vocabulary performed by vivid dancers. Overall tonight, the pieces were of a colorful and straightforward nature, and enjoyable for a varied audience though perhaps sometimes in need of the traditional writer’s advice: to show and not tell.