Yuyu Rau, Beloved Emoh
Divo Company, Angoscia
Seke Chimutengwende & Friends, Mr Lawrence
The characters of Yuyu Rau’s Beloved Emoh seemed to be crawling through the garden grass, climbing the trees and swimming in the seas of their personal histories. Dancers Angelina Jandolo, Marie Chabert and Raul Ibanez conjured the objects and activities of home-life present and past, with crisp gestures infused with the forms and rhythms of classical Chinese dance. Accompanied by reminiscent spoken narratives, this memory play was more polite and sentimental than moving, and the combination of live musician with recorded tracks was overbearing at times. But nevertheless, Rau is obviously a promising craftsperson in the making.
The night’s most…therapeutic event was Angoscia by Divo Company, in which a metaphorical balance was struck between ideas and action. The pair of dancers trembled, ambled along as though on a Prozac downer, getting right up close, even touching each other at times, always just avoiding any meaningful contact. Complete with turtleneck jumpers, flat facial expressions and an archly ironic voiceover text by Mary Ann Hushlak and choreographer Olga Masleinnikova, the piece kept threatening to deliver us into the clutches of the Tyranny of the Avant-Garde. But thankfully they merely flirted with pretension. ‘Please control your face’ implored ‘Angoscia’ repetitively – from the Italian for anxiety, the title also the name of our pathologically solipsistic narrator – hinting at a self-conscious, wry and witty awareness of the work’s own uptight-ness.
From neurosis to narcissism; last up Seke Chimutengwende & Friends presented Mr Lawrence, a prepared improvisation about an upper class in-crowd, made by seven bright young things, all maniacally bushy-tailed and up for it. Decked out like the cast of a screwball comedy set at the racetrack, the group mugged and strutted ably within tightly scored scenes, shouting out non-sequiturs and putting on faux-haughty accents and airs. The performers had a blast and clearly thought themselves adorable. But the framing device ran out of steam halfway and cute as these kids were, it was ultimately hard to care much about them.
Jeffrey Gordon Baker
The seasonal curtain came down on an evening that was in the main strong, considered and well performed by casts dedicated to serving disparate creative visions.
You could sense the care Yuyu Rau brought to Beloved Emoh, a budding study of cultural identity featuring movement influenced by – but not restricted to – classical Chinese forms. It was evident in the curvilinear yet mimetically precise dancing of Angelina Jandolo and Marie Chabert; in Raul Ibanez, notable for his long, spiralling frame and springing jumps; and in the over-all tone of calm enquiry. Not that there weren’t imbalances in the staging and a score grafting recorded music to lute-playing Cheng-Ying Chuang’s live vocals. Ideas about place and belonging gently driving the work might’ve also been sharpened and clarified. But by trusting those onstage (including Rau herself as a low-key interloper) I felt at least partially rewarded.
The nuanced, obliquely affecting elements of Angoscia just about kept any self-conscious literary pretensions at bay. Divo Company’s collaborative experiment was pinned to choreographer Olga Masleinnikova and dramaturg Mary Ann Hushlak’s smartly ironic (not to say neurotic), confessional voice-over text. A bare stage was parenthetically backed by the image of a small dark figure in a blurred yet epic architectural landscape – a picture, we were told, of the female narrator’s mind. Were dancers Yukiko Masui and Anne-Gaelle Thiriot perhaps meant to embody the split psyche of this unseen speaker whose titular name derives from words signifying anxiety and angst? The pair shifted adeptly through covert, personal patterns of motion but always with an awareness of the other.
The night ended with Mr Lawrence, a lemming-like lark by Seke Chimutengwende & Friends – seven dancers, that is, comprising a virtual who’s who of young indie talent. Sidling centrestage in motley garb they began by eulogising a deceased writer in halting words and gestures delivered like a wacky collective monologue. They then flipped into a frantic game of improvisatory ‘tag’ before climaxing in a scene of impulsive kinetic chaos set to a track by krautrock band Neu! Willfully eccentric, antic, arch and both annoying and vaguely amusing, it certainly tickled some funnybones.