As Cascade Dance take on their first season they bring with them a wealth of experience via their choreographers and dancers.
Along with experienced dancers from America, Spain, Japan, Portugal, and, of course, Wales, Artistic Director Phil Williams has a great deal of experience touring both nationally and internationally throughout his career working with companies that include Welsh National Opera, National Theatre Wales, National Youth Theatre Wales, Tilted Productions, Stem Dance Bangalore, DanceWorx Delhi and Mumba.
Having just formed this new repertory dance-theatre company Williams and co bring their inaugural performance to Taliesin Arts Centre in Swansea. Three separate choreographers take the reins with one student show, courtesy of Swansea University Dance Society (chor: Phil Williams), and then the three professional shows from Cascade. Each piece is distinct from the other in its subject and form but culminating into a wonderful evening of beautiful and thought provoking dance theatre.
The first piece came from Swansea University Dance Society dancers and, under Williams’ simplistic but striking choreography, they showcase great skill and poise. They are ones to watch in the future.
Inspired by folk magic and witchcraft traditions the first of the three professional pieces is entitled Poppet and is choreographed by Jem Treays. This was a wonderfully sweet piece that saw Poppet, a puppet, being both controlled by, and controlling of, 5 dancers (Maria Fonseca; Miyako Asano; Faith Prendergast; Jamie Morgan; and Albert Garcia). All the dancers have at least one interaction with Poppet and it appears that the puppet is ultimately the master of all leaving a sense of bitter irony.
In a piece that seems to offer a larger metaphor investigating control and complicity, it is hard not to get lost in the humour and beauty of this performance. Treays’ and his team have created a wonderful piece here with theatrical humour and metaphor.
Choreographer Jasper Van Luijk offers something a lot darker with the second piece of the night, Quite Discontinuous. Dancers Jamie Morgan and Albert Garcia engage is a physical duologue exploring the ‘lifelessness in movement’ (programme notes). The tone of this brought to mind themes around obsession, love, anger, death and loss. All this is spun into and brilliant and intense piece of dance-theatre.
The final performance of the evening sees Phil Williams take the reins again with his extremely clever piece Collidron. This dance explores Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which has its centenary this year. What we see played out include conceptual renditions of gravitational waves, planetary orbits, and direction and redirection. This is beautifully performed by the 5 dancers we saw in the first piece. The performance mirrors the awesome and overwhelming nature of the cosmos, particularly in its aesthetic context. There was a sense that this is a philosophical, perhaps even existential, perspective of the ‘natural’ world. This is all underscored by a stunning percussive symphony performed by Harriet Riley, which underpins a symbiotic relationship between the musician and dancers.
On a rainy night in Swansea it was very nice to escape into this world of wonderfully artistry. It was more than dance, it was more than theatre: this night was a thoughtful response to some very real issues such as one’s own agency in the world; how we might deal with loss; and perceptions of the scientific world.
A great evening’s viewing and well worth the soggy trek.