News & Blogs

31 January 2018
Author: Natasha Tripney & Emma Iskowitz

Tue 30 Jan: Gareth Mitchell & Tara D'Arquian/Imbeciles Dance Theatre/Local Tourists

Gareth Mitchell and Tara D’Arquian Orphan Realms

Imbeciles Dance Theatre One Eye Open

Local Tourist Fragmenty

A woman runs in circles. She runs and runs. When not running her movements give a sense of a woman being pulled this way and that, by things beyond her control. Orphan Realms, a collaborative work by Gareth Mitchell and Tara D’Arquian, takes the form of a repetitive and abstract piece. Sometimes D’Arquian, who also performs, runs – and sometimes stops to speak and sing – but it’s never clear from what or to where she is running.

Imbeciles Dance Theatre’s One Eye Open is the most narrative driven of the programme’s three pieces. The focus here is a woman, older this time, wearing dusky pink linen and sitting in a comfy chair next to a record player. She talks about time and its passing but it feels as if her words are as much for herself as for the audience. As she speaks four figures – two men with long hair, two women with cropped hair – in mustard velour tops – move in formation to music from Elvis, Bowie and Leonard Cohen. Occasionally they don commedia del arte masks. Sometimes they mimic each other’s movements. There’s humour in their movements as well as an edge of the uncanny. Are they memories? Facets of a fractured self? Eventually the woman dons a gold dress and gives herself to them in a moment that ends up being a startingly poignant reflection on mortality.

In Local Tourists' Fragmenty, choreographers and dancers Aine Reynolds and Monika Szpunar don tangerine and sea green shell suits and matching socks to perform an upbeat duet full of gestures of support. There’s an endearing playfulness to their movement. They lean on each other. They pyramid their bodies. They scamper and swagger and don sunglasses. Fun as the piece is, and it is, it’s also shot through with a sense of friendship and affection.

Natasha Tripney

The Resolution programme tonight featured three colorful works depicting journeys of women- from spotlight to spotlight, place to place, life to death. They moved through landscapes, memories and relationships, surprisingly specific in their humanity while abstract in their environments.

Orphan Realms, a collaboration between choreographer Tara D’Arquian and Gareth Mitchell was a solo of a woman trying to find her rhythm in life. The music was trendily ambient but driving, and D’Arquian was graceful and clear to watch as she fought, ran, sang, surrendered and explored her way through different metaphorical landscapes created with light. The lack of specificity, while lending itself to relatability, occasionally became numbing and tedious to experience.

Imbeciles Dance Theatre’s One Eye Open was, quite plainly, stunning. The work was reminiscent of the final scene in Fosse’s All That Jazz, grappling with how to appreciate life yet somehow find a way to celebrate death. A woman in her living room reminisced in her memories and contemplated her life as formed by four golden figures, almost comically diverse in stature and appearance. It was sometimes tense, sometimes strange, sometimes incredibly sad, sometimes just simply funny. Choreographer Bradley Smail and his very talented performers managed to expose very real lives and emotions in a fully abstract way, even to the point of some tears from the audience at the end.

The final work, Fragmenty  choreographed and performed by Aine Reynolds and Monika Szpunar as Local Tourists, wrapped up the evening with humor and poignancy: a portrait of two women exploring the world and their friendship, travelling with impressive seamlessness between jokes, scenes, and ideas. While a simple concept, it was executed with precision and quite a bit of intelligence and grace, remaining engaging and vibrant throughout. It was surely one of my favourite nights of the festival so far, with pieces that were effortlessly smart, painting relatable and tactile ideas in an elegantly abstract way.

Emma Iskowitz


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