News & Blogs

9 January 2020
Author: Graham Watts & Emma Hopley

Thu 16 Jan: Lydia Harper/ Collateral Damage/ Condense Dance Co.

Lydia Harper  FATcrobat

Collateral Damage Us, You, Me, Living?

COndense dance company COco Oriented

A loose cloak of psychology covered these three works, which in any other sense could not have been more different. This journey through the vagaries of the human mind meandered from the insecurities of the audition experience, through introspective observations on the human condition to a treatise on the social influences of obedience. Each work had the appeal of a distinctive voice.

Lydia Harper, an accomplished aerial artist with Cirque du Soleil experience, has gone backstage to direct FATcrobat, a blend of comedy circus that shows great potential in a crowded marketplace for circus-based theatre. Having unpackaged themselves from cardboard boxes, the opening sequence of Hauk Pattison throwing cartwheels to obey the rapid instructions of an unseen audition director – eg “do it like a zombie” - was both funny and poignant. Having done everything that was asked of him (even the cartwheeling zombie) the one thing Hauk couldn’t do was “be taller”. Spanish aerial artist, Constanza Ruff demonstrated smooth skills on the aerial silks and Fiona Thornhill impressed with virtuoso command of the cyr wheel, while rebelling against her sequined showgirl clothes (first time I’ve ever seen anyone undress on a cyr wheel).

Dressing and undressing was a leit motif of the angst-ridden middle work with the two dancers – Llewelyn Lewis and Lara Fournier – dressing while slithering along the floor on their shoulder blades, later unpeeling each other’s clothes in a passionate, grappling duet. Spoken word actor, Cindy Fournier drifted around the stage enigmatically, dressed as a new wave chanteuse while Fournier and Beatrice Belletti’s monochrome film played on the back wall and the dancers performed their modern version of La Danse Apache. Like a snippet from a Truffaut film, this Gallic affair had too much going on but was nonetheless absorbing.

Five young women enacted Melanie Little’s Oriented in multi-layered vignettes about the behaviours of acquiescence, which was thoughtfully constructed if a little patchy in its fluctuating impacts. The performers gelled into a tight group, especially when enacting the aspects of compliance and conformity amongst a group of self-conscious toddlers.

Graham Watts

Thursday night at Resolution is packed full of new conceptual works. Though presented through various mediums, what unites the pieces in this triple bill is the ambition of the young choreographers to comment on the world they have grown up in. FATcrobat consists of caricatured episodes from the life of a circus performer who doesn’t fit the mould. Enforced sequins and body stereotypes are abound in their world, and these youngsters are well set to defy. Some scenes feel drawn out, and a few transitions are in need of a polish to help the piece flow. However, my reservations about the use of circus to express and tell a story are assuaged by the skill and performance of Fiona Thornhill in her cyr wheel. A witty combination of slapstick and thought-provoking images, Harper’s directing debut hits the spot.

Us, You, Me, Living? is ambitious in its inclusion of new choreography, spoken word, film and sound. At times the combination tends towards sensory overload, making it hard to follow exactly. The slick dance duet consists of many dynamics and layers. Motifs of tangling and reuniting wind across the space, repeating and growing. Meanwhile, text jumps and interrupts itself, intersecting with spliced images on film- effectively mirroring the ‘absurdity of today’s miscommunication’. Through a state of mild confusion, I have respect for the breadth and depth covered in this angsty short piece. With further development, it could work well as an immersive installation.

Finally, Oriented begins with the systematic creation of a maze surrounding the performers, clearly setting up a piece about obedience. The performers go on to portray school children with conviction and panache that can’t be faulted. Geometric movement is precisely executed, and breaks down into more organic, guttural flows as the system is broken down. Whilst the choreography at times doesn’t match the depth of the soundtrack, this cohesive piece is nicely drawn together by a closing fragment of spoken word.

Emma Hopley


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