Daniel Somerville the moment I heard
Keneish Dance All seeing
Devaraj Thimmaiah Arranged Marriage
A powerful, superbly performed, duet brought this excellent programme to a close in Devaraj Thimmaiah's Arranged Marriage. A former dancer with Shobana Jeyasingh and Tavaziva, Thimmaiah has the rare performance quality of combining machismo, elegance and fluidity and he was consummately matched by the beauty of Fukiko Takase (Henri Oguike Dance Company). Supple, sinuous flexibility, with movement rippling through spines and shoulders and unfurling along Takase's long limbs into the very tips of her toes and fingers, raised the bar of anything I've yet seen in Resolution! 2011. Thimmaiah's choreography is punctuated by elements of Bharata Natyam and Capoeira within a broad contemporary structure that was often balletic in its use of developpés and arabesques. I always look at the words ‘experimental piece' with foreboding since it can be an excuse for ‘not yet finished', but Thimmaiah's fifteen minute choreography was not only complete but polished into a very fine gem. I would happily pay to see it again any day soon.
Another duet was All Seeing, a purposeful and enjoyable work, strongly flavoured by African imagery and sounds. The use of lighting and silhouette was impressive as was the movement's balanced relationship to the periods of silence, loud rhythmic drumming and birdsong that provided an interesting and diverse soundscape. The choreographer, Keisha Grant, also performed - alongside Sade Alleyne - and, although engaging dancers, their movement occasionally lacked upper-body flow.
The opener was an intriguing and poignant interpretation of the impact caused by a miscarriage, told through dance theatre liberally infused with Butoh characteristics (eg white faces and slow silent screams), which always maintained an arresting visual appeal. The psychological intensity aligned to one performer using blood-red pointe shoes seemed to catch the prevailing topicality of cinematic dance (Black Swan vs The Red Shoes). Daniel Somerville also appeared in his own work and - together with Julia Barnett and Madaleine Trigg - the trio delivered a dramatic production that was both subtle and visceral.
How do you create intimacy in fifteen minutes and make stage relationships seem real? In answering this question tonight's performers counterpointed acts of communion with interludes of disharmony. The moment I heard, Daniel Somerville's portrayal of a miscarriage, was daring yet beautifully conceived on every level - the performance was so haunting that it remained with me throughout the evening. A tricolour scheme of black wings, red curtain and whitened butoh make-up cast the three dancers (a mother not-to-be, a paternal foetus and a curious red-haired ballerina, who resembled Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes) in a world of pain. The convulsive frenzy and low wail emitted by the bereaved mother were inevitable. However, the butoh influence in the choreography propelled this breakdown into slow-motion as the protagonists became gargoyles of grief: the male dancer was open-mouthed yet unable to scream, while the ballerina sculpted her angular limbs into a sinister geometry.
Unlike the previous piece, where the characters were clearly distinguished, Keisha Grant and Sade Alleyne in All Seeing mostly moved as one body. The work passed through golden-lit phases where the performers' impressive musicality and synchronisation were foregrounded, and blue phases, where their figures melted into inky, surreal silhouettes. The choreography was technically commendable given the dancers' isolation and contortion of their upper bodies, but overall unremarkable and the use of audible breathing at the beginning had an especially recycled quality.
Arranged Marriage by Devaraj Thimmaiah continually subverted the circular motif of the wedding ring. Attempts to close the circle in pas de deux and embraces were constantly thwarted by other, travelling circles including pirouettes and overhead splits which showcased Fukiko Takase's expressive elasticity and fast reflexes. Devaraj Thimmaiah was also extremely watchable - writhing and pivoting at floor-level, he imbued his movements with a whispering, clandestine quality. Though formulaic, the play of attraction and repulsion between the two dancers seemed compelling and authentic.