News & Blogs

24 February 2019
Author: Donald Hutera & Sophie Chinner

Sat 23 Feb: AZARA/What Is Written Dance Company/Anna Dighero

Azara Just Another Night

What Is Written Dance Company Submerso

Anna Dighero Costa Brava Sunset

A unique trio of works concluded  Resolution 2019. This included the enigmatic, yet charming, Costa Brava Sunset, which definitely has its quirks. Influenced by her training in Spain and Israel, choreographer Anna Dighero has fashioned a sprightly duet encompassing a dynamic Hispanic quality and a groovy, liberating style deriving perhaps from the Israeli movement language of GAGA. Infused with inexplicable randomness, this playful rebellion against bureaucracy and the system centred itself around a strip of red tape which diagonally sliced through the stage floor. Typhen Fribault and Marie Levenez tightroped across it performing comical, short phrases and uttering French dialogue. Wrapping themselves in the tape instigated a stealthily playful physical connection. Ultimately, however, the ambiguity of their relationship blurred the work’s meaning.

Submerso was another duo, but more weighty and serious in tone. The eighteen minute extract from the production ‘The Art Of Conflict’, co-choreographed by Viviana Rocha and Ryheim Scott, is choppy and explosive. The work exemplified intense aggression through a skilful fusion of contemporary and hip-hop dance. The pair’s Jedi warrior-like exertion of force on one another accompanied by heart-pounding bass beats became tropes for the obvious theme of conflict, but it was unclear where the source of violence underpinning this piece was derived from. Were we witnessing an abusive relationship or an internalised battle outwardly exposed?

Azara’s Just Another Night combines impassioned spoken word and fervent hip-hop dancing to recount the true story of her night out that turned into a kind of nightmare. Her fiery solo epitomises the struggle for identity and equality in the 21st Century by questioning social attitudes towards race, gender and, sexuality. Guided by live percussion, Azara travelled through patches of light and the littered carcasses of empty plastic cups taking the audience with her through an eventful evening. Her monologue was enhanced by an abundance of poetic gestures, mime and physical action that emerged organically from the text. Although she may have had to restrict her movement due to the technicalities of her microphone, Azara bounced off our energy as if we were all immersed in the piece’s house party setting. Her ultimate message – Companionship and togetherness can conquer injustice, was an altogether encouraging one.

Sophie Chinner

One of the first things you feel pouring from the stage in Just Another Night is Azara’s boundless energy. Her seamless use of spoken word and hip hop-based dance to pick apart the strands of a real-life experience at a house party seems totally organic, and yet all of Azara’s artistic choices are savvy enough that you know they’ve been fully thought-through. Riding the rhythms of playfully sharp language, and movement that’s often fast yet always detailed, she delivers a lively, engaging and powerful consideration of racism, homophobia and friendship. Her text sometimes competed, albeit forgivably, with the welcome live music of High Opinion Drums plus an atmospheric sound design. That cavil aside, this was a heartening, thoughtful half of a longer solo show from a generous, gifted artist.

Collaborating with fellow dancer Ryheim Scott, as well as utilising Jean Pierre’s striking lighting design and music, the choreographer Viviana Rocha has come up with plenty of nuanced, dynamic motion to retain our interest in Submerso. Somewhat unclearly there’s a lot going on in a duet ostensibly about one’s shadow self. What I saw on the other hand – and on the heels of a fairly intriguing, forest-set film prologue – was the unresolved playing out of an elemental conflict between two people. Now if Rocha can somehow clarify the work’s ambiguities… Given what she’s already got it’s a creative job well worth doing.

I wanted to like Anna Dighero’s Costa Brava Sunset more than was possible. Said to be ‘inspired by life in an off-season seaside resort,’ and addressing the constraints of bureaucracy, it had Typhen Fribault and Marie Levenez jostling, with adept and dead-pan quirkiness, for supremacy atop a diagonal line of bright red tape. The performers could claim a strong connection, while the soundtrack was a clever melange of rhythm and kitsch. So why did I feel as if this ultimately obscure, funny-peculiar (or would-be funny-haha) little work had failed me? It’s almost as if my presence had somehow been forgotten. The non-ending didn’t help.

Donald Hutera


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