Tonight’s Resolution opens on a mysterious mist-filled space, dreamily occupied by two men in casual clothes. They wind and wander across the stage long before the house lights dim. The audience filing into their seats is no more distraction from their curious quest than the ethereal white lights that illuminate them. The performers lope, leap and hang; their limbs seem to drip with invisible weights. This is Bakani Pick-Up Company’s Strange Clouds; we are in a vague, intriguing but ultimately undeveloped piece. Unanswerable nothingness is seemingly the point here, but it makes unsatisfying viewing.
By contrast, Ombrascura Dance’s Children of the Moon, a breaking-based piece, is crammed with distinctive individual sections, though the narrative is hard to parse. A technically excellent cast crackle and pop through scenes that evoke aggression, comfort, loss, gang mentality and iconoclasm; a slick quartet scene of spinning, freezing b-boys is particularly impressive. But despite its excellent performances, Children of the Moon has a somewhat paint-by-numbers feel to it: it’s impressive, but it offers little in the way of emotional connection or storyline – a missed opportunity in a piece with so much narrative suggestion.
he stand-out piece of the evening is Iona Brie’s solo DEUCE. Tan-suit-clad Brie, both choreographer and performer, ticks like a metronome under a shadow-filled spotlight, pulling at a string around her neck. Her precise, repetitive full-body twitching gives way to an extraordinary silent mime; she become a frantic marionette boxed into a cube of light, gesticulating wildly at an unknown interlocutor. A voiceover begins to whisper – she was a bit sensitive when she came in, soon you’ll feel sleepy, 5, 6, 7, 8 – and she blunders under its influence, eventually lying flat. Ali Hunter’s ingenious light design changes again and the prone Brie appears to be in a gigantic MRI machine, clunking mechanically, lines of light scrolling over her. When she blossoms upright, Vivaldi vibrating in the background, she appears to contend with an uncertain, reborn body. A spectral piece superbly realised and performed, DEUCE promises exciting things from this choreographer.
Strange Clouds, from the Bakani Pick-Up Company, depicts two lost souls, wandering through a desolate realm of vast confusion and uncertainty. Confusion deepens, as the relationship, between performers Darren Payne and Bakani Pick-Up, fails to identify itself, intense, directed gazes contradicting blank and quizzical stares into the unknown abyss. Moments of indulgence, exploring the space beyond the extremities, released through charged jumps and playful fluidity are few and far between, allowing the casual, and often lethargic pace, to dominate the duration and lessen the time we get to spend staying lost.
From restriction to liberation, Iona Brie’s DEUCE skilfully communicates a personal journey of emotional and physical trauma and healing. Plaited into an oversized suit, a single thread tethers the structured fabric to the physical body, over which it holds authority. Mechanical and regimented, Brie's gestures are rounded off by boundaries. Tangled, pulled and untangled, the thread never faulters until all ties are cut. Sharp, responsive lighting design and bellowing pulses of sound assist in the transformation of the space, transcending the architecture and situating us inside the mechanism, of the mind and of machinery. Engaging and emotional, Brie navigates the space powerfully and proves that the story of isolation, includes everyone.
Ombrascura Dance, complete with powerhouse performers, provides a dynamic ending to this programme. Technically precise with impeccable execution, Children of the Moon is fuelled by spectacle; unison sequences appear in abundance, challenging stunts receive spotlight moments and musical influence reins over the movement choices. An easily digestible performance, I was left with no piercing thoughts or questions. If aware of its unchallenging nature, this would be entirely adequate; however, the narrative of Ophiuchus, a constellation and in Greek mythology, a serpent bearer, was promised and underdelivered. Focussing on packing the 25-minute work with fast-paced action, the story suffered and what remained was a visual parade, lacking in substance.