News & Blogs

9 January 2020
Author: Jenny Gilbert & Hannah Barron

Wed 29 Jan: Kindred & Judd Collective/ Parbati Chaudhury/ Grand Gesture

Kindred & Judd Collective aGender

Parbati Chaudhury Fader

Grand Gesture That Old Feeling

Entering the auditorium for tonight’s Resolutions, the stage is strewn with clothes, a dancer already raking through them, trying on numerous garments. aGender looks to explore the demands and expectations of motherhood through improvisation. Choreographers Judd and Kindred accumulate apparel, each layer reflecting their endless duties and responsibilities until every move becomes restricted and repressed. While the duo slip easily into contract improvisation, the material throws up a lot of the same movement and begins to feel repetitive. The music builds in intensity but the choreography lacks a similar climax.

In contrast, Parbati Chaudhury’s intriguing Fader has us on the edge of our seat with expectation. Chaudhury’s work considers how we cope with trauma and whether the subsequent pain lessens over time. The topic is presented with significant maturity and sensitivity by Meera Patel through an extremely precise Kathak solo. We witness a series of gentle movements and gestures in a circular trajectory, unexpectedly cut with spontaneous, sharp pivots that are impossible to predict. With stage smoke and warm lighting, Patel appears to be dancing beneath clouds on a hot, summer’s day. It’s a powerful and poignant work in which Chaudhury isn’t afraid of stretching a moment to its limit. In a prolonged, penultimate image, Patel kneels, floored by grief, desperately reaching, her body barely moving but filled with a longing urgency that resonates through the theatre.

After an intense, thought-provoking performance, Grand Gesture succeeds in lightening the mood as they confront, and abolish, stereotypes in That Old Feeling. Probably the oldest of Resolutions performers (by quite a way), the group don’t shy away from exploiting their age for comedic value. The choreography incorporates walking sticks and grasping of lower backs, before abandoning all pretence and launching into an impressive array of styles, including movement akin to Kung fu, as well as Belly Dancing and Contemporary - to name a few! It’s an eclectic, and perhaps overwhelming mix of themes and music, but undeniably filled with charm, joy and surprise.

Hannah Barron

Gendered behaviour and the search for personal identity is what interests Maga Judd and Helen Kindred. Mounds of clothing dominate the action as the pair put on and shed random items between loose sequences of improvised movement, chaotically “trying on” different roles. To liken this to a party game would make it sound fun, but the costume changes are increasingly tedious. The most interesting image comes at the start as the pair pull skirts over their heads and wander about on all fours, downward dog-style, thus erasing not only their gender but also their humanity. Overall, this has the feel of work in progress.

Parbati Chaudhury’s kathak-based solo about coping with trauma has a wonderful performer in Meera Patel, a dancer with great presence in stillness. To the mysterious plucked sounds of the sarod, the solo traces a path through stages of pychological healing, from numbness through anger, exhaustion, frustration and finally to a place of calm. A slender thread of mime keeps the narrative on track. Other sequences are boldly expressionist, a struggle against unseen forces. The dancer’s hand becomes an obsessive focus, dragging her to a place she doesn’t want to go. Powerful work, beautifully shaped.

“No spring chicken”, “old biddy”, “coffin dodger” … A recital of belittling names for seniors sets the defiant tone of this tragi-comic pas de quatre. Its creator-performers are clearly fans of Pina Bausch, but the influence is purely positive. A neat opening sequence to 1930s pop plays up to the “old folks” clichés, all bad backs and cuppas. But then the walking sticks are put to livelier uses: as Kung Fu staves, fencing foils, a ballet barre. Free-form solos follow. One recaps an entire life in three minutes, recalling the physical freedom of childhood and the comforts of marriage. A man turns in a spot of Turkish belly dancing to whoops of approval. An object lesson in structured variety, and a shout-out for youth in age.

Jenny Gilbert


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