Justine Reeve Dance, Someone else’s perception of perfection
Kirstie Richardson, At the age of forty I decided to be honest
Daniel Somerville, Mad Scene
High promises of obsession, compulsion and narcissism, set out by the programme, fall short in Someone else’s perception of perfection. Despite a lack of cohesion and dedication to the prescribed idea, there are some gems keeping the piece together. Simple, creative staging sees a solitary, low-hanging light bulb suspended over the stage, illuminating movement, in one instance highlighting the dipped back and pursed hands of a dancer, an intertextual cry to Davies’ Carnival Swan. The male duet shows the most promise, as the dancers playfully weave in and out from under each other’s arms with ease and flair.
At the age of 40 I decided to be honest opens confidently; the strut of heeled boots, the dramatic rolling of a wedding ring across the stage. This strong start fades quickly, when she introduces speech to explain herself (“I’m married...I’m not supposed to be”). When she ferociously shakes her left hand, arm, then her whole body, the message about marriage is clear rendering the flailing moments of speech unnecessary. The unspoken moments of the piece are the most eloquent; the reverent sequence in front of the slides of family photos, restricting herself within her own construction of a masking tape outline of a human body. Some things are better left danced, not said.
Theatricality prevails in Daniel Somerville’s Mad Scene, dominated by which is the presentation of the brides. In full length veil, a dancer slowly advances forward, closely followed by a performer ruffling her dress. The result of this display is a stunning cross between the ghostlike Miss Havisham and Lady Gaga’s living dress. Elegantly stumbling backwards expressing all the qualities of a fractured marionette doll, a third performer gracefully staggers about the stage, until she collides with her fellow dancers. The highly operatic song from the mad scene of Lucia di Lammermoor, is danced to with precise musicality in this spectacle of a piece.
“Disjointed” is the word that springs to mind, though not necessarily in a bad way. Justine Reeve’s Someone else’s perception of perfection is a series of non-sequiturs, each scene displaced by the next. Its dance style is also discontinuous, full of hitches and wrong-footings. Emma Gogan executes some off-kilter callisthenics, then a puppet-limbed man builds up a sequence of swizzles; another man lurches about with ragdoll tumbles and swaggers. The men form an oddball twosome in the one section that’s sustained enough to become weirdly compelling, before Gogan returns in heels and posh frock, her hair untrammelled. Very baffling, but sometimes tantalisingly so.
Kirstie Richardson’s At the age of 40 I decided to be honest is a confessional piece. Richardson throws a ring onto the floor. She parades up and down, hand outstretched to show it now on her finger. Her hand shivers, then shakes, but the ring stays on. She lies inside the outline of a human figure that she’s made from tape, then slithers away. She gets hooked on some sassy poses, caresses her own hands, flounders on the floor, and finally she roams restlessly in the dark in front of projected images of a man, two children. “I’m married,” says Richardson near the beginning, but she needn’t have spelled it out: the solo speaks for itself as a collage of evocative actions and images.
Daniel Somerville’s Mad Scene is built on evocative imagery. A dapper Somerville appears with shirt splattered red, sidling forward wanly like a recently shot duck. With a theatrical flourish, he sweeps back the curtains to reveal our cast of characters: a corpse bride in diaphanous white with crimson lips; a white-faced man in a singlet, part pierrot, part ghostly b-boy; a wild, dark-haired woman who flings about her bouquet and veil. Shame about the action, then: having set up the imagery brilliantly, the choreography itself serves mostly to fill out the swooning strains and quivering coloratura of its operatic score.