News & Blogs

18 May 2022
Author: Jodie Nunn & Josephine Leask

Tue 17 May: Alice Labant/Gordon Raeburn/EQ DANCE CO/Rosie Russell

Alice Labant/Gordon Raeburn Rebooted Facets

EQ DANCE CO Sanctuary

Rosie Russell This has been my TED talk…

Alice Labant and Gordon Raeburn present a softly-staccato fragmentation with Rebooted Facets. Driven by the minimalistic comfort of a lo-fi backbeat, Labant and Raeburn oscillate in a series of momentarily poised shapes and lines, forming relational vignettes, laced with unexplored contention and complexity. Crossing the space with ease, the pair murmur with protective malice, puppeteering one another in a lax entanglement. Whilst Rebooted Facets centres around the notion of chance, citing the influence of Repertoire Abécédaire, greater is the suggestion of intimacy; at times it felt somewhat voyeuristic to be viewing Labant and Raeburn in conversation. Though occasionally the emotionless conviction and dissociation felt eerily stark, Rebooted Facets left room for interpretation, rolling with a comfortably grounded dexterity that meant for a pleasant viewing experience.

EQ DANCE CO’s Sanctuary spirals with an accelerating tension, expertly handled with a meandering intentionality. Pulsating with spiritual and communal notions of sanctuary, the piece offers a complete experience, despite only being an excerpt. The controlled balance of poignancy, light-humour, and emotional depth, paved way for nuanced story-telling. Woven with the essence of searching and finding, wondering and wandering, dancers move effortlessly, circumvoluting themselves, one another, the simple sheeted set, and the central strand of sanctuary. The metamorphosis of accompaniment, from plucking strings to whirring, scaling orchestral sounds, mirrors that of the dancers. The familial sense of togetherness durationally reverberates, concluding with stable and cohesive unison. Relatable yet nuanced, Sanctuary pinpoints universal understandings of belonging, refuge, and safety.

This has been my TED Talk… offers an honest, personal take on the mind and manner of Rosie Russell. With solid integrity, Russell whiplashes from spoken-word to movement, from voice-note to video, in multi-disciplinary chaos. Akin to a stream of consciousness, Russell’s physicality and intention echoes that of her overlapping voice-notes; one thought is barely articulated before another intervenes, mirroring the relentless rhythmicity of the base-heavy accompaniment and Russell’s rapid vibrations. The predictability of this choreographic method dissipates in what feels like a second act for Russell, as light and vaporous movements supersede the angst and frustration of moments prior, she contentedly whirls through the space in what appears a more nuanced and subtle response.

Jodie Nunn

Rosie Russell is brave, funny and touching. Using the structure of a TED talk as a way into exploring the state of her head, positioning herself as subject of her own experiments, she dances (manically at times) and narrates her way through a psychological landscape of highs and lows; triggered by lockdown, a break-up and life. While Russell makes it very obvious that dance is what makes her happy, it’s the still moments that are particularly engaging. In a pre-recorded film of Russell weeping at various times – but also talking through the tears – she wins me over with her honesty and ability to communicate her complex emotional states.

Preceding Russell’s solo, David West’s Sanctuary occupies the stage with fast flowing choreography and a variety of domestic objects that question the necessity of creating a safe place during Covid and beyond. Alys Davies’s introverted, angular gestures set her apart from the confident, embracing partnering that gels the friendship of Pagan Hunt and Ellie Trow. What we see unfold on stage is how a group of people - their contrasting characters explored through waves of expressive movement - manage to get over their social awkwardnesses in order to construct a sanctuary for all to share. Much of the action is centred around fabric and tent poles, a teddy and friendship hair-grips – these objects cause barriers as well as solutions - but the dancers show great skill in their ability to manipulate them while dancing flat out. Josh Baker Mendoza’s exquisite sound score is a perfect accompaniment to this feel-good, spiritual quest.

Rebooted Facets opens the evening, its choreographic detail and needle-sharp precision remarkable to watch. Alice Labant and Gordon Raeburn smother each other with eclectic sequences of intricate gestures and steps, punctuated by stops, silences and stillness. They’re clearly drawing on a varied choreographic lexicon, producing sampled extracts that are both recognisable yet also look new in the way they are performed. In terms of describing an intimate human relationship however, there’s ambiguity and I’m not convinced by the blank, robotic faces of both. Brilliantly articulated but emotionally unclear!

Josephine Leask


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