After an intriguingly slow start in the gloom of a dark stage, José Tomás's Enough Matter blossoms into a bright exuberant celebration of life and the human body - well a celebration of his body particularly and what it is to grow up and define yourself. Tomas, in just nude pants, emerges from a cocoon of paper to perform a writhing, strutting, hip-swaying, pelvis-thrusting, bounding and stotting routine with a length of paper, sometimes shown silhouetted by indistinct projections. More movement than perhaps dance, it's an exotically Latin, passionate, poetic, and rather narcissistic, showing of a fit body and flowing curly locks.
Wtf. That's what I kept thinking all the way through Panos Malactos 4YEARS. At first you think you are seeing a rather throwback ballet-inspired contemporary duet (very well danced, it has to be said), but then you are listening to The Place's automated telephone answering machine with weird keypress options. I haven't a clue what this was about but we were all thrilled and amused to dip into the surreal world of Malactos and his dance partner Melina Sofocieous, be they reciting words, dancing beautifully or animatedly like puppets, changing costumes or just laying splatted across the floor, all to Maria Callas and 2001: A Space Odyssey, amongst others. Thrilling and compellingly strange - want to see more of Malactos.
Fubu Nation delivered the most conventional piece of the evening - Ruins - and a fine and professional job they made of it, too. Created and danced by Waddah Sinada and Rhys Dennis, it's about the thoughts and struggles within men from marginalised groups. You see the outside pressure on them from an oppressive soundtrack and you experience their anger and mutual support in both snappy and flowing movement, lifts and powerful duets. There is the occasional whiff of Russell Maliphant's work for the BalletBoyz, but this is an original and rather polished piece that delivers on the programme words and makes you think. Bravo.
Panos Malactos’ 4YEARS, a bizarre and outrageously fun piece, mocks the experimental and eccentric side of contemporary culture. Going against preconception, the work is intentionally pretentious rather than unwittingly so. The dancers babble out convoluted jargon in spoken word and in another episode, expose their naked behinds whilst the iconic tune from A Space Odyssey booms in the background. It becomes even more comedic when such a playful quality is executed with strong contemporary technique. The snappy duet is a vibrant fifteen minutes of devious entertainment, extremely well received by viewers.
Unlike 4YEARS, Fabu Nation’s Ruins sets a moodier vibe in a sultry urban contemporary style. Two athletic men physically battle it out in a rugged conflict heavily focussed on the breath. These sonorous exhalations are tense and supply the stimulus which instigates the next movements. The breath stands alone as a musical layer within an oppressive composition that echoes above the barren stage, stripped of its stage curtains and wings. Unafraid to intensify the volume, the soundtrack became a little discomforting and perhaps distracts from the impressive popping element of Waddah Sinada and Rhys Dennis’ choreography. Their connection suggests a ‘Follow the Leader’ kind of game being played which reinforces their mutual dependency and ultimately they return into darkness united.
The self-choreographed solo, Enough Matter, created by the Chilean performer José Tomás is conceptually focused in its exploration of the body's physical construction. Initially, the shapes and folds manipulating a sheet of plastic material create a visceral image; its monotone crackling and crumpling essentially fills the role of musical accompaniment. The beginning is slow moving and prolonged periods spent in still positions on the floor, in near blackout, grow a little tedious over time. However, eventually, there's a spontaneous breakout into frenzy. Coloured lights flicker spasmodically and Tomás throws his body into wild shapes. He prowls the stage in an animalistic fashion and his gestures became bestial and inhumane. A bold creation endured well by the solo artist.