17 February 2019
Author: Natasha Tripney & Stella Rousham

Sat 16 Feb: Satoko Fukuda/Anaya Vasudha/Definitives Dance Company

Satoko Fukuda About the leaves

Anaya Vasudha EKA

Definitives Dance Company Sensatus

In Satoko Fukuda’s solo piece she wears a flowing dress of peach taffeta. Lit from behind, the outline of her body is visible through the fabric. Slowly she unfurls, limbs windblown. Images of growth and seasonality, budding and blooming, ribbon through the piece as she moves as if adrift, arms undulating, hips pivoting. This is a delicate piece, unafraid of silence and stillness, and though the movement isn’t always as precise as it could be, it’s incredibly atmospheric. The last image, her fingers caught in the spotlight, is highly striking.

In Anaya Vasudha’s EKA the shadows of the three performers merge on three panels of white cloth suspended on the back wall. They become one, entangled, a multi-limbed deity, before splitting apart. Blending Kathak hand gestures and more propulsive contemporary movements, this piece has a percussive strength. All three performers have long hair and Vasudha is alert to the potential of this, the way it cascades, the way it whips out as they spin and thrust. There’s strength in their movements: solidity, femininity, power.

Definitives Dance Company’s piece begins with another striking image. A female performer, Jasmin Saulo, is bent over, her back arched. But only slowly does it become clear she’s folded over another performer, crouched beneath her, supporting her. The piece takes inspiration from the Wachowskis’ Netflix series, Sense 8, about a group of individuals whose minds are linked and, in an echo of the second piece, the seven performers bodies once more merge. Capoeira-style movements are used to convey a sense of one-ness and connection with one another but also individual expression, as an infinity symbol is projected on the back wall. In all three piece lighting is used intelligently and imaginatively to enhance the pictorial power of the performances.

Natasha Tripney

Tonight’s triple bill was characterised by shared themes of unity, growth and cycles, as well as a refreshing focus on staging, including varied and complex lighting arrangements, projections and voice-overs.

Satoko Fukunda’s solo, About the Leaves, was a fitting way to start the evening; her depiction of the journey of a leaf, from root to the fall, mirrors the audience’s venture into the unknown. The stage is filled with golden, autumnal light, as the dancer’s form is just visible under a delicate beige tulle skirt. As she turns ever so slightly, the silence, soft breathing and gentle padding of her feet embody a leaf in the midst of flight. The ending is poignant and original, a cupped hand surrounded by darkness lit by a single strip, beaming diagonally across stage - like a rain drizzled leaf catching the sun.

A sensation of twisting, circling and weaving continued into the second piece. Choreographer Subhash Viman Gorania meshes classical Indian dance with urban influences and powerful beats to form his dynamic trio, EKA. The all-female cast begin and end on the stage in a hydra-like form, standing in a vertical line before a light, casting a long and convulsing shadow along the back wall. With loose hair and flowing costumes, Gorania crafts moments of raw and palpable tension, as the dancers battle with themselves and one another - a battle for unity and individuality. The breath, rhythms and water-like whispers that form the soundtrack of this work are transporting, generating a mythical atmosphere on stage.

Definitives Dance Company’s, Sensatus, opens with a sci-fi-esque image, as one dancer lies with their back arched under a cone of light, creating an impeccable sense of suspension. Despite the compelling opening, the intention seems lost in the later sections. The use of blindfolds lacked nuance and commitment, weakening the impact of the dancers’ disorientation. There were some stunning solo moments under the spotlight, using hip-hop and contemporary styles, to create a bold and precise movement quality.

Stella Rousham


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