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21 May 2022
Author: Graham Watts & Olivia Foskett

Fri 20 May: Courtney McCarthy/Chandenie Gobardhan/Matthew Harding

Courtney McCarthy Sketch

Chandenie Gobardhan CREATOR

Matthew Harding Every1 Knows Nothing

These distinctive and contrasting works shared an emphasis on strong visual aesthetics, accentuated by striking lighting designs; and pulsating, repetitive soundscapes that incorporated a variety of natural and industrial motifs. Courtney McCarthy’s monochrome setting for Sketch was a contemplative exercise in layering three forms emanating from two engaging dancers (Georgia Aiken and Tilly Woodward): combining live movement with the animation of their faceless cartoon-sketched clones projected to share a backscreen with the dancers’ giant shadows. These forms co-existed in separate, yet aligned, states until an impactful end merged animation onto the dancers’ bodies while their shadows tried to intervene. McCarthy’s strong, yet simple, concept was succinctly delivered in a piece that carried no unnecessary padding, performed to Ben Martin’s excellent score, layering soft melodies over a relentless beat. It was short and sweet.

CREATOR also concerned three forms, specifically, the Trimurti - Hinduism’s supreme divinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva - and its choreographer, Chandenie Gobardhan has provided an object lesson of less is more. Beginning with smoke and darkness out of which a booming, foghorn-like call resonated through the space, this eerie, otherworldly atmosphere continued throughout the piece, performed solemnly by Mithun Gill and Gobardhan herself. Mostly positioned in cross-legged, meditative poses, they twitched abruptly - like animals on the alert for predators - and in unison before bursting into rapid and intricate armography. Strong on subtlety and symbolism, CREATOR left me wanting more.

Breakin’ Convention came to Resolution for the final piece and, after two duets, a tightly-knit crew of seven tackled the many challenges of rapid movement harmonies in Matthew Harding’s Every1 Knows Nothing, a hybrid of movement styles that incorporated contemporary dance, hip-hop and highly expressive, rapid movements in the style of krumping. P J E Davey’s varied lighting designs triggered the work’s changing mood and Harding has the rare knack of creating descriptive use of movement through memorable motifs, such as the shoulder-driven, tongues-out group swagger that metaphorically yelled “I’m a Geezer”. This was a slick and highly professional conclusion to a brief and entertaining programme.

Graham Watts

Courtney McCarthy’s Sketch opens the night’s programme, clad in white Georgia Aiken and Tilly Woodward begin an intriguing quartet with their projected counterparts; stop motion style sketches that blink alongside their sweeping arms and spiraling torsos. There is a certain camaraderie between the two dancers, playfully hopping and grooving with one another, glancing at the audience sporadically and vivaciously. A gentle optimism is woven throughout the piece, both in music and projection, they dance in the rain and a childlike bemusement is integral to the style. The projection breaks its monochrome, and a series of energetic bursting and brief coloured lines light the dancers' bodies before they step into the final projection of light, hope, friendship, future.

A vibrating, pulsating ‘Om’ reverberates around the theatre- meditative, hypnotic. Chandenie Gobardhan and Mithun Gill begin CREATOR. They are strong, poised and defiant, seated in a malasana squat like floating beings, arms stretched and hands tense. Gill’s head snaps from left to right, over and over, oozing confidence and aggression. As the pulsating music grows, so does their gestural movement, with powerful mudras. In a dazzling homage to both Indian and contemporary dance, the surgical precision and intricacy of their movement and timing is quite simply mind-boggling. They twitch and snake their arms beyond human capability, it is animalistic, tribal, ritualistic. This is what great choreography and dance is all about, both subtle and profound, accompanied by a stellar soundtrack. I am left with the keen desire to see more and more of Gobardhan.

The programme ends with Matthew Harding’s Every1 Knows Nothing. A bass-heavy soundtrack accompanies the seven dancers’ hip-hop-contemporary fusion. Elements of locking, whacking and popping, to name a few, are scattered throughout. They march around the stage as a pack with their chests puffed, individually breaking out into solos. There are moments of playfulness, dancing to the audience with tongues out and eyes wide, and moments of intense and powerful synchronicity. The message of this work sometimes felt confused, but the strength of the performance was in the focused musicality of the group.

Olivia Foskett



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