A sparse rounded spotlight dominates centre stage as choreographer and performer Satoko Fukuda rocks back and forth into the darkness, floating in an effervescent limbo to capture the sense of being In the Middle of Nowhere. Gestural articulation of the hands flourishes into off-balance full-bodied falls and turns. Spherical movement, pathways and spotlights reflect the ambiguous feeling of going around in circles, encapsulating the sticky space between yes and no. A hypnotising performance that flowed with clarity and control, despite the reoccurring theme of uncertainty.
This sensation of being stuck intensified as the night unfolded, entrapping us in JgXgh’s Marble Incarceration. The space was dictated by a seemingly inconspicuous mound of clothes which burst to life as a hidden performer emerged from under its bulk. A feeling of despair developed as the dancers violently flung their bodies around the space, hands frenziedly clutching heads. A relentless lethargy built, as like a magnet, the materialistic heap incessantly dragged the performers back, like helpless puppets on strings, representing the dangers of consumption.
We ended the night with a fitting contrast between constraint and freedom, highlighted by opposing flashes of rapid and sustained movement quality, clever lighting choices and complimentary music. Influences of Hip Hop and Tap joined forces to create an intriguing fusion in BDblaq Dance’s BlaQish. Trademark razor-sharp isolations united with witty shuffles created a charming partnership, enhanced by the tight-knit bond of the group and the sincere theme of brotherhood. Personality driven solos from each of the performers created moments of individuality within the togetherness. Intimate spoken word and quirky movement phrases broke down the conventional performer- audience barrier whilst playing with notions of identity and acceptance. The invisible border was further blurred when the performers departed from the main theatre exit, skilfully making us feel like a unified front, and an integral part of the performance.
The premise of Satako Fukuda’s dance solo In the Middle of Nowhere is to explore the state between yes and no, the limbo of being neither here nor there. Accompanied by Simon McCorry’s electric cello score – lots of open-stringed harmonics and looped playback – Fukuda vacillates within a sidelight, swivels in curlicues within a spotlight, her fingers writing upon the air. At first she seems to spiral inside her own uncertainty; later, centripetal forces turn centrifugal, and she uncoils into more expansive arcs and tumbles that may be no less nebulous but are notably more willed. Throughout, there’s a slender poetry – that is, sometimes subtle, sometimes slight.
Marble Incarceration opens with Joshua Gillies and George Hicks in black underwear approaching a random pile of old clothes, which turns out to harbour a Cat Jones. She bursts out, they dive in to grab some clothes (white trackies both – coincidence?) and the three play out several portent-heavy scenarios of much hurtle, yank and thrash. I couldn’t help but think of this scenario not as the work itself, but as its metaphor: choreographers Gillies and Hicks rummaging for an elusive concept and contriving to wrestle, ostentatiously but fruitlessly, with what they find. It’s a bit of a jumble; a bit heavy-handed at that.
They could take a leaf from the book of BDblaq Dance’s BlaQish, another piece with two men (Ashley Goosey, Dominic Haynes), one woman (Ayten Goksan) and a concept. Here, the work hits home through restraint and focus. At first they’re lined up one behind the other, while a gospel voice and chorus rises around them. For a while not much happens, but it’s enough: they know how to hold a moment. Using a deft meld of hip-hop, contemporary and tap dance, the piece plays out by superimposing the earthbound and the aspirational. Each dancer recites a personal confession, while their bodies flicker with the struggle it takes to speak out – before that gospel voice rises again, melding inspiration with lament. I saw this company at last year’s Resolution; this year, they seem to have really levelled up.