Koncentrat Artistic Group (Poland) Rafal Dziemidok Floe
Gillie Kleiman Ophelia is not Dead
Anomic Multimedia Theatre Dan Shorten Leave only footprints
Is fat a formalist issue? The juxtaposition of two works in tonight's Resolution! made the question impossible to avoid, even if the first one didn't try to raise it. Floe, by Koncentrat Artistic Group, features Rafal Dziemidok, who is a lot fatter than your average dancer. So? He's a lot more interesting too, and fat has nothing to do with it; form does. Floe is a kind of choreographic show-and-tell: Dziemidok explains his process - two types of flow (lilting, staccato) combine with two variables (fast/slow, up/down) producing eight types of phrase - and then demonstrates it. Between times, he muses on meanings, memory and music, and somehow you sense a rush of connections between the matter-of-fact material, the feelings it seems to contain (discovery, introspection, struggle) and the cheesy sentiments of his chosen doo-wop song. It's a rare chemistry, underpinned by the unobtrusive presence of ballgowned Ewa Garniec, who dutifully operates the sound and lights, all dressed up with nowhere to go.
In Floe, fat is not an issue but form is; the reverse is true in Gillie Kleiman's Ophelia is Not Dead. Kleiman is another low-key, likeable presence who muses on memories (learning the splits, doing a dance degree) and dances out demonstrations; and like Garniec, she's posh-frocked. But she's not much interested in form, more in feelings and flesh: she squeezes her ample belly, bounces boobs and buttocks, tells fat-mum jokes. The points about the banality of hurt are well taken, and in theatrical terms the piece is both entertaining and discomfiting. Choreographically, though, it's lightweight.
At least Kleiman has purpose and direction; Dan Shorten and Sasha Spasic of Anomic Multimedia Theatre look lost. In Leave Only Footprints they skid and tumble and skitter pointlessly through a myriad of special effects: sweeping searchlights, elaborate stage scaffolding, screen animations of space-age avatars, electric snowflakes, comic-art street scenes - all accompanied by a miscellany of music (electronica, trance, acoustic guitar). Lots of effects, little effect
Floe's beauty is in the peculiar balance that exists between painstaking explanation and mysterious anonymity. Garniec remains anonymous. Hovering in the background, her sequined dress keeps us expecting more. Dziemidok, on the other hand, moves forward, talking us through what he is doing. He is graceful and ordinary, sincere and trivial. He explains a bit, shows a bit, explains a bit more... and rather than becoming boring, his revelations accumulate to offer us a perceptiveness we would otherwise be too lazy to employ. Dziemidok is gentle and unassuming yet his control over us is complete. He leads us far down his logical path and then, just as we develop an appetite for mystery, he gives us a remedial dose of bewilderment in the form of flashing lights and a sequined dress - it all fits perfectly.
Kleiman also plays with the joys of structural balancing - interrupting and splicing her own ‘fat girl cabaret' so that it's more than just the series of dance numbers it claims to be. When we expect show business she does fat wobbling. When we expect fat wobbling she does sexy. Surprises and all, it is neat cabaret entertainment. She delivers the lame alongside the glorious as if they were made for each other. Tampon jokes drift as if on fumes of Earl Grey and anti-climatic anecdotes are positioned into the splits. I can't decide whether she makes these things look normal or whether she looks normal alongside them. Either way, my eyes are on her and they are refusing to blink.
The last piece, Leave only footprints, sadly leaves me squinting - protecting my eyes from the overload of disjointed images and trying to imagine what the piece might look like if the performers were more successfully treading their way through it. An Abu Ghraib prisoner, boiling lava, a looming penis, flying limbs and pantomime faces - it could be fascinating, but won't be, as long as Shorten continues to be unaware of the chaos he has created.