Irene Cioni Aquarium
Victoria Hoyland Hide The Beginning
Iratik Dance Theatre David Watson The Extraordinary Expedition
‘Resolution! can be quite hit and miss' - this gift of an opening line supplied by Kip Johnson in Victoria Hoyland's Hide the Beginning perfectly summarises the evening. First appearing as two white heads in the dark, floating towards an unidentified glowing object were the amphibious dancers of Aquarium. Lights turned on, wind up goldfish were spat into a bowl, and the marine-clad water nymphs began their riveting routine. Swimming in synchronised arcs, they pushed and pulled against unseen currents, exploring why we choose to inhabit confined structures over infinite space. A soundtrack of breaking china anticipated the cross formation that finally ruptured their oval orbits on stage - simple yet exquisite.
Throwing their most alluring shapes, three beauties - Red, Beige and Green- vied for our attention in Hide the Beginning. Green, the live type that danced onto a screen from a laptop manned by Johnson won hands down - coquettish and oh-so-cool, Green dangled the possibility of leaving in front of us, knowing full well we wouldn't budge. When Green ceased wooing us with this haphazard pas de deux, we missed him because he had become our channel to Red and Beige. Oh, they attempted to flirt too - at one point Red was in an apron and black panties, shaking her boobies, reeling off sex chat like a shopping list and miming different positions. But her regime didn't, to mis-quote her, ‘hit the spot'. And after a while even Green's quips about ‘flexible knees' felt like banal party tricks.
A host of angels followed those would-be devils. Dressed in white filmy tunics, Iratik Dance Theatre attempted to convey the stories of cognitive behavioural therapy patients. While I didn't register this narrative, I enjoyed the choreography with its myriad formations, skyward star-jumps and circular delineations of personal space. A petite dancer with black plaits displayed astonishing flexibility, whipping her leg past her ear as though to trace a halo with her toes.
Two girls lean forward and spit goldfish out of their mouths into a waiting bowl. As entrances go, it's attention grabbing. Dana Kolesarova and Irene Cioni's Aquarium is purportedly about freedom, and what we do with it. But bar the inappropriate use of aquatic pets, it turns out that we make order, because the result here is far from anarchy. There's a pleasing specificity to the pair's movements and trajectories, dancing in slippery jerks or bouncy shadow boxing; all playful games of getting from A to B. It's a slight but satisfying work, although there's a danger of being easily forgotten by our goldfish-like memories.
On entering Victoria Hoyland's Hide the Beginning, we're handed a wordsearch, which seems a good parallel with the act of watching contemporary dance: fishing for the words and meanings among a sometimes seemingly random tangle of possibilities. We see this writ large on stage as Kip Johnson types live responses on his laptop to the performers' actions, from more straightforward movement material (‘flexible knees', he comments) to scenes of increasingly oddball antics, as one girl stuffs ovoid maracas down her top (‘egg eroticism') and the other's strangled voice comes singing through a snorkel (‘scraping the barrel', Johnson suggests). It's an amusingly postmodern riff on the audience's experience. ‘Resolution! can be hit and miss,' he types. Too true. But more often the works fall somewhere in between.
Iratik Dance Theatre's The Extraordinary Expedition is rather conventional by comparison, but has an interesting starting point: cognitive behavioural therapy and the crisis points in people's lives. Seven women in states of angst arch and wrench their bodies but there's nothing weak or confused about these subjects, with the dancers going full tilt. While they are individually strong performers, the ensemble sections feel heavy handed and less convincing. Not as fresh or forward thinking as the previous two pieces, but very sincere nonetheless.