Throughout the past six weeks of Resolution, emerging artists have largely merged inconspicuously with those already well-established, but in this concluding programme, each new work came with strong professional associations.
Brian Gillespie’s B-Hybrid Dance has an eclectic range of dance forms in its back catalogue and so it came as no surprise that Masc 4 Marginalisation presented another, very different dynamic; addressing issues of gender across a broad spectrum. Starting with a new interpretation of the beep test, three narcissistic, yet insecure, guys competed in some ambiguous way for the right to change socks, which they did with alacrity. This section – perhaps a tad overlong – morphed into a flowing, physical sequence requiring co-ordinated movement in an inter-connected trio of holds and balances. The three men worked well together, both as dancers and comedians.
Yu-Hsien Wu’s self-choreographed solo, Dirty Paw, was an eclectic collection of miniature dances, showcasing the lithe plasticity and movement quality of an excellent performer who is already known for her work with Russell Maliphant and Alexander Whitley. My preference was for the opening, floor-based sequence, in which Wu gave a convincing account of a creature slowly emerging from its chrysalis. I’ve not seen anyone dress and undress (in red overalls) quite so sinuously and surreptitiously. The relevance of some elements was mysterious, such as text from Donald Trump and Theresa May, and a burst of shadow puppetry, whilst apparently asleep.
Whitley’s recent work for Gandini Juggling provided a link to the final piece, which that company co-produced. Choreographed and performed by Chris Patfield and Jose Triguero, Gibbon was an appealing, surreal mix of physical theatre and comedy juggling. Focusing on competition, self-awareness and achieving success while masking failure, this was an absorbing and entertaining work achieved through a powerful combination of technical skill and performance chemistry.
Masc 4 Marginalisation by B-Hybrid left me perplexed. The piece began with three male figures slouched against the back wall, interchanging between model-like poses. Pairs of socks strewn across the stage in front of them. The three competed, changing their pose in response to an intermittent beep – the winner got to wear the socks. A convincing start intrigued me and spiked humour. As the dancers arrived centre stage illuminated under a box of light, confusion set in. Tops and socks discarded, the dancers performed a contact section and various counter balances – each seemingly trying to escape the box. The movement section came as a surprise in comparison to the beginning. Masc 4 Marginalisation finished abruptly causing me to wonder if it was part of something bigger…
A mysterious, animalistic character took to the stage in Dirty Paw. Yu-Hsien Wu contorted her body and performed a mesmerising solo. The quality of her movement was exquisite and authentic as she embodied several characters – the busy commuter, a child skipping in the playground and a playful child making shadow puppets. However, a sudden re-emergence of the mysterious creature left Yu-Hsien Wu retreating back to the warped animal she was in the beginning. With a slap-stick quality,
Gibbon was charming. Two incredibly talented jugglers brought humour and talent to end the final triple bill of Resolution 2018. Gibbon was innovative and challenged the boundaries of dance by incorporating juggling balls into the mix! Chris Patfield and Jose Triguero made the seemingly impossible possible as they entwined their bodies whilst juggling. Gibbon was gripping, truly comical and thoroughly enjoyable to watch. The juggling balls floated magically around Patfield and Triguero with the occasional misshape and dropped ball simply adding to the humour!
B-Hybrid Dance present Masc 4 Marginalisation, a decidedly ambitious work aiming to deconstruct social ‘boxes’ that label and pigeonhole those within LGBTQ+ communities. Three males catalogue a series of confident poses, juxtaposing both masculine and feminine postures associated with male sexuality. Dancers react to one another in exaggerated gestures that are lightly humorous. Momentum is misplaced however, as sections feel needlessly overextended. Appearing in what is quite literally the social ‘box’ they are hoping to escape, the choreography transposes into a movement heavy sequence, where much of the earlier intrigue and intention feels somewhat lost.
Dark, intimate lighting illuminates a composite of intertwined limbs in Dirty Paw. Insect-like, Choreographer and Performer Yu-Hsien Wu inches towards us, coiling through near impossible positions of contorted shape. Semiotic splashings of red, ominous dark hair upon face, amongst threatening whispers suggest hallmarks of the Horror genre, although this is much more subtle approach. Wu integrates powerful storytelling; a struggled negotiation through an imagined busy crowd, permeated with hesitant everyday actions that begin to hint upon the anxiety and insecurities caused by a torrential wave of overwhelming media platforms. A quiet interlude of shadow puppets proposes a fairy tale nightmare perception of reality. The final section underestimates her audience, providing unnecessary answers to a work that communicates strongly enough to survive without them.
A warm and uplifting finale is presented by Gibbon, comprised of Circus performers Chris Patfield and Jose Triguero. The work undertakes a premise of apparent simplicity; a duo failing to effectively juggle. In fact, every mishap, mistake and failure is a superbly intricate and slickly presented choreographic act. The pair are warmly endearing, as through continued hesitant beginnings and extravagant bow sequences, they poke fun at the traditional performance set up we find ourselves in. Musicality and rhythm drive this complex musical score, building towards an inevitable climax, where juggling balls float and glide with mesmerising effortlessness. An ending to both a performance and festival programme that was every bit as satisfying as I hoped it would be.