27 January 2018
Author: Siobhan Murphy & Daisy Moorcroft

Fri 26 Jan: Malcolm Sutherland Dance Company/Elisabeth Schilling/Edit Domoszlai

Malcolm Sutherland Lost for Words

Elisabeth Schilling SIXFOLD

Edit Domoszlai Angels

There’s an intriguing premise behind Malcolm Sutherland’s duet Lost for Words – that, being so firmly embedded in a numbing routine of waiting, someone could fail to recognise what they had been waiting for when it came along. Jade Brider started alone on stage, stuck in her heavyhearted routine; her elegant precision made her constant switches from repetitive movement to morose convolutions to slumped-shouldered resignation quite enthralling. She fell into Davidson Jaconello’s arms when he appeared, but his increasingly frantic attempts to break through and make contact were ignored, then rebuffed. Frustratingly, though, the focus of this fifteen minute piece wavered too often; tranches of the choreography, although technically interesting, confused the central idea – and murky lighting design obscured the couple too many times.

Quite what we were supposed to get out of SIXFOLD was something of a mystery. Elisabeth Schilling clearly put huge physical effort into this solo piece, which had her emerging from behind a marbled sphere, as if being born, and proceeding to wobblingly master the use of her body. Starting off tightly curled, she unfurled over 23 minutes, but never let us see her face – we were mainly presented with Schilling’s shaking, convulsing back as an enervating sporadic accompaniment of droning sounds and continuous notes played. Sadly, the lack of engagement with us made it feel as though Schilling was bound up in an act of self-indulgence rather than trying to make a connection.

The Rambert dancer Edit Domoszlai took inspiration for Angels from a song – Before You Snap by the Hungarian musician Yonderboi, which samples Jack Nicolson’s seduction speech in The Witches of Eastwick, persuading Cher to ditch dull convention and monotonous routine for a wild time with him. Domoszlai’s short, robust trio, danced with Sharia Johnson and Daniel Davidson, started with quirky invention, as Davidson was turned briefly into a human ironing board and iron. An anxious pulse seemed to power the piece as the three, locked into the music’s varying rhythms, followed vigorous synchronised sequences. But that restlessness, conveyed in constant fiddling with their garishly patterned shirts, didn’t really lead us anywhere dramatically interesting. An evening, then, sadly, of style over substance.

Siobhan Murphy

The room is unusually quiet. Expectant muttering permeates the arriving audience as dancer Jade Brider repeats her introverted, seemingly endless loop of heavily weighted, exhaustive manoeuvres. As houselights go down, and Malcom Sutherland’s work Lost for Words begins, there is no denying that the technical proficiency of these dancers is exceptional. Deeply morose, with undulating rhythmical shifts, Brider disengages from her partner, crumpling to the floor like a lifeless rag doll. With a series of flawlessly executed lifts, this performance was mesmeric. Yet, with the relentless monotony of the accompaniment, and some unnecessary unison sequences, I couldn’t help feeling somewhat distanced. A lack of emotion left me feeling a bit cold.

Elisabeth Schilling presents solo performance SIXFOLD, a work that has toured extensively this year. Schilling emerges tentatively from behind her sculptured sphere, a gradually evolving foetus that falters and stumbles. Vulnerable and fragile, she exposes the back surface of the body; convulsing, shivering, like some strange, incongruous entity. Distant rumblings permeate the soundscape as Schilling writhes about. Snakelike. Sweat, glistening on her upper back alerts us to the pure physical exertion involved, but this self-indulgent, interceptive attention somewhat alienates us. I imagine this may fare better as an installation piece.

Rambert dancer Edit Domoszlai selected musical accompaniment from Yonderboi as inspiration for her work Angels. Correlation musically between score and dancers is clear, as a trio in jeans and vintage shirts perform technically executed sequences. In what seems a prevalent theme of tonight’s performance programme, although the movement is great I am perplexed in my attempt to ascertain the choreographic intention. Dancers awkwardly readjust their shirts as they ‘bob’ in time to their soundtrack and I am left feeling totally lost when dancers emerge with ironing boards, proudly emitting steam on a musical cue, only for the piece to abruptly end. I must admit I leave tonight’s theatre feeling slightly apathetic. Dance really is best when it makes you feel something, isn’t it?

Daisy Moorcroft


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