tangled feet Remote Control
Poor Man's Dance Daniel Elliott After Dark
NORD dance Christina Brondsholm Andersen Traces
It's not often I suggest a piece with technical savvy should use less nifty devices, but tangled feet's Remote Control could heed this advice. Save for the crafty lighting design, which combined with the dancers- come-actors, portrayed a control versus chaos dilemma in a totalitarian environment perfectly. Dancers overcame their oppressors (in the form of square shaped spotlights and punishing electronic music) through punchy choreography, childish play fighting and mimetic theatre. Along with interrupted speech, projected images of mobs and restrained sequences, the cast finally protested their way to what resembled freedom- even if the journey there was slightly prolonged.
From ‘under control' to ‘under the thumb', Daniel Elliott's dancers epitomised couples in love in After Dark. As three pairs of underwear clad couples curved and cuddled around each other, their actions were either determined by their partner or in support of them. Rippling movement enriched the various tracks and voice messages that comprised the accompaniment. Occasionally, soloists would perform small, intricate movement that explained the intimate places only their partner could access: a bra strap, the side of their torso, or the hem of their underwear. Despite small glimpses of slightly clichéd moments, this piece boasted impressive lifts and stunning tableaux- I will be interested to see new editions to Elliott's repertoire.
The final piece explored what it is to be alone. As each of the trio of female dancers traversed across the stage in slow motion, this seemed to be an omen for the overall pace of the piece. NORD Dance's Traces was a choreography of opposites. The space was either empty with minimal, drawn out gestures or contained too much to take in. Dancers concentrated on their immediate area, were greedy with their surroundings and rushed off into the expanses. In keeping with the theme, they rarely exchanged glances and absent mindedly whispered to themselves until the piece ended as it had begun- plodding off into the distance.
Remote Control, by the physical theatre collective tangled feet, was an abstract examination of four people subject to forces both within and outside themselves. They emerged singly to terrible static, finding refuge in squares of light. Coupled up, they then faced down an unseen power (think Dorothy and pals standing before the Wizard of Oz). There followed exaggerated in-fighting between the sexes, stifled quotes about police states and child psychology and up-to-the-minute filmed news reports of rioting as occasional backdrop. The movement was blunt but articulate, particularly an ensemble passage of slice-swing-dodge-lob-roll protest and self-protection. The piece could use a trim. Its point - how individual will can be lost in mob violence - wasn't obvious, but the intelligence behind it was plain.
Daniel Elliott's After Dark was a gem of a sextet. Three couples, both same-sex and straight, in basic black underwear shifted from floor rolls to supportive lifts. There were other interactions (e.g., an almost architectonic men's trio), but sometimes people were alone (either watched in private moments by us or others whom we, in turn, could observe watching). With its simple, tender intimacies - say a finger tracing the outline of a body - the choreography suggested an emotive, caring sexuality rather than faux sexiness. In a nicely familiarising touch voicemails were layered atop the varied soundtrack (from Nick Drake to John Tavener). Elliott and a finely attuned cast resisted coy or clichéd preciosity in favour of honest, measured clarity. Their thoughtful gentility is refreshing in a global dance scene that often seems hell-bent on battering our senses with unspecified angst.
After this delicate reminder of the poetry of the flesh NORD dance took us to more opaque realms. Traces was an attempt by Christina Brondsholm Andersen and three self-absorbed female dancers to theatricalise, in low-key fashion, spiritual isolation. This involved slow-motion walks to head-invading chords, whispering in pools of overhead light and white dresses descending from the heavens. Potential engagement was undermined by a failure to invite us into private, ritualistic rapture.