News & Blogs

13 February 2019
Author: Graham Watts & Mark Aspen

Tue 12 Feb: Hazel Lam/Rouzet and Martinez/Mara Vivas

Hazel Lam Lighthouse

Rouzet and Martinez Ondule

Mara Vivas time/less

These three works had three things in common. Silent and slow-burning starts; a strong visual appeal with the performers – respectively, a solo and two duets – in situ when the audience filed in; and concepts that promised more than they delivered.

Hazel Lam’s Lighthouse condemned the impact of plastic on the environment. A striking rectangle, bordered by plastic light tubes, housed three tangled masses of PVC pipes hanging from the flies, in which Lam eventually became entangled as if a doomed sea creature in an Attenborough documentary. This was powerful imagery, well expressed, as a prelude to Lam’s aerial rope skills, utilising significant core strength to articulate dynamic shapes, while hanging from several strands of plastic, which she transformed variously into a trapeze, a hammock or a harness. These rare skills were presented with unusual material to make a profound statement, for which the dead moments – especially in a dull beginning – could be readily overlooked.

Ondule’s strong visual impact, incorporating projected backdrops and fascinating costumes (all designed by Laura Rouzet), was initially matched by the sinuous, sensual movement of a closely conjoined, masked duet (Rouzet with Alejandro Martinez). After this impactful start that somehow evoked an atmosphere of the Arabian Nights, the dancers’ undulations meandered along separate channels, in which both purpose and challenge seemed to fade away.

Mara Vivas’ time/less tackled the tough issues of time and mortality. The silence was initially matched by stillness and a softness of movement by Lynn Dichon, repeating patterns, traced barefoot, while Tara Silverthorn merely stretched up onto the balls of her feet. Eventually, the pair interacted, interrupting this interesting tension in their dynamic. Eventually, the light faded on their random rearrangement of glasses, situated upstage. It was a work of personal significance to the choreographer that asked the audience to consider how we experience time. For me, these were 20 minutes that seemed time/more.

Graham Watts

Resolution goes to sea with a triple bill that evokes an eerie marine world as an expressionist metaphor for human perception. Lighthouse shows us the way. A light-rope strands us outside a safe emotional harbour. Two protagonists straddle this boundary, one a solo dancer, Hazel Lam, the other a writhing mass of translucent tubing like the tentacles of an unseen cephalopod. Approaching apprehensively, in silence, she becomes enveloped, enthralled, embraced … but she has crossed the emotional boundary, for as she releases herself to the sensuality of this relationship, the piece becomes a graceful aerial ballet, accompanied by Nyman-esque original music by Max Morris. Lam’s agility amalgamates art-forms to illuminate the strength of the tender over the terrifying.

The senses are inundated in Ondule. Laura Rouzet’s expressionist approach combines video and music in a mesmerising dance form, aquatic in its palpitating, pounding fluidity. With fellow choreographer, Alejandro Martinez, their synchronised patterns are organic, a single life-form. These organisms, girdled and veiled in articulated pink, are hyperactive decapods, which throb to a heartbeat sound as the cyclorama swirls with hydrodynamic globules. The promise of popping and voguing suggested a more angular and assertive style, but this performance takes the technique to a much more fluent form that is hypnotically watchable.

The mood is much different in Mara Vivas’s time/less, a contemplative study of the nature of time. We are on Crosby Beach. The superficial rusting on Antony Gormley’s statues is replicated in the long shifts worn by the performers, Lynn Dichon and Tara Silverthorn, who stand in silence. Gradually, by almost imperceptible degrees, they engage with each other and drift together. I’m an impatient sort of chap, and ached for action. It came as slo-mo miming of life’s experiences, and resolved by a manipulation of a representation of the celestial spheres. It is an elegant elegiac piece, which I will ponder for some time.

Mark Aspen


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