This is one of the neatest evenings of dance put together by the Company’s outgoing Artistic Director Caroline Finn and it will be a real treat for audiences as it tours, including some of the smaller venues across Wales.
The show is, as the marketing material states, four sharp, short dance, which are best seen close up and personal although I am sure they will work well on larger stages.
I like to take a holistic view of dance programmes, even when sometimes they are not intended, and for me this collection of works spoke of control and breaking away from that control – or not. The control can be men, your partner, your self or even your choreographer………….
The intimate feel of the evening was enhanced by Caroline Finn giving a welcome to the audience at their home base, the Dance House at Wales Millennium Centre, and then bringing the dancers and other choreographers to the space at the conclusion for a chat with the audience.
The programme began and ended with the Artistic Directors own creations, Beside Himself and Animatorium, with Matteo Marfoglia’s dark Omerta and Lee Johnson’s elegant duet They Seek To Find the Happiness They Seem either side of the interval.
We are told that Beside Himself was originally presented as Beside Myself in 2011 for dancers of the Royal Danish Ballet. Here dancers Cyril Durand-Gasselin and Evan Schwarz play out the tussle between ego and alter ego which starts with pleasant, amusing mirrored pair dancing, with goofy breakouts as one and the other aspect of the personality breaks out into independent/ dominant movement. They come back together, they move apart, and takes turns in physically controlling the other through the manipulation of their body via the mouth; that symbolic organ of expression. Their costumes are black spectacles, matching vests and boxers, with only their sock colours varying.
Interestingly the last dance Animatorium is also about control and rebellion. This time it is a group work with a dominant controlling puppet-master bring to life his four dancers. Again they are controlled by physical touch, they are lightly guided by the master through a fluid set of movements which are dexterous and lithe, always under the direction of the rather sinister choreographer. Yes, choreographer. However, perhaps like dancers who are given the freedom to express themselves beyond the laid down steps they are taught, create their own expression. So we have the four dancers having a flourish of independence (like he ego and alter ego going in separate directions) and almost literally stretching and tearing their controller apart.
What is marvelous is how dancer Ed Myhill acts the man in charge with a subtle use of facial expression as he wizard –like manipulates the others. This is all the more pleasing as he has to take this role straight out of dancing Lee Johnson’s slow and mesmerising dance, paired with Angela Boix Duran. This is the antithesis of the other works being a detailed, precise, scrupulously taught choreography that is highly-controlled as the duet follows in complete synchrony.
This dance is lit with a gentle touch by Joe Fletcher.
The most stark dance is Omertà by Matteo Marfoglia, digging deep into the roots of Sicilian culture. Originally created for the Company’s Alternative Roots project in 2014, four women are dressed, and oppressed, by black dresses and lace covering their faces and suffocating them. In pools of light, they appear and disappear to an accelerating pattern of sounds and movements which suggest not only pain and suffering but stifling constraint. The dancers, Angela Boix Duran, Camille Giraudeau, Elena Thomas and Marine Tournet, then wash in pails of water, wildly splashed over their now liberated flowing hair, as they explode into freedom. Although darkness returns.
This is a well-constructed programme and with variety, humour, elegance, intensity and intelligence flowing through the distinctive works demonstrates the company’s dance voice.
Get out and discover an entertaining hour or so of dance.
The Cardiff performances form part of Cardiff Dance Festival. www.dance.wales
Dance House, 13-14 November, 7.30pm, 14 November 1pm
Cardigan, Theatr Mwldan, 16 November 7.30pm
Abergavenny, Borough Theatre, 17 November, 7.30pm,
Blackwood Miners Institute, 18 November, 7.30pm
Mold, Theatr Clwyd, 5-6 December 7.45pm