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Tight Corner Dance Company 'Perfectly Valid,' In:House 'Out of Body,' OKKO Dance Company 'Lonbo'

by Lyndsey Winship

January 29, 2004 -- The Place, London

Probably the most predictable thing about Resolution! is its unpredictability. You read the choreographer's blurb and think you might have an idea of what to expect, only to be confounded by the performances themselves. 'Perfectly Valid,' the offering from Tight Corner Dance Company, talked of an aural and visual experience -- exploring group dynamics, identities, and the impact of architecture, fashion, and culture. Interesting? I'm afraid not.

In contrast, In:House's 'Out of Body' sounded potentially embarrassing; 'awkward' and 'bizarre' movements were on the agenda, while 'alien sources' would inspire an out of body experience. Thankfully, in reality, Caroline Lofthouse's choreography was subtle, intriguing, and calmly hypnotic. A trio of girls began making skew-whiff shapes, looking at their limbs as if surprised and slightly dissatisfied. What to do with these unruly extensions? Before they could work it out, a fourth dancer infiltrated the group, adding vigour, like an unstable particle. The dancers were forced in different directions, weaving in parallel lines like threads in a loom. Each had her own style and motifs but they all shared a common language, and danced, if not with passion, then with a clear focus. As time passed their bodies could have been melting or mutating. Either way, it was a metamorphosis that was very pleasing to the eye.

Finally, OKKO Dance Company and 'Lonbo.' On paper this was an exciting proposition, a meeting of contemporary dance with West African tradition. On stage, the two didnít really click. Dancer/choreographer Ernest Kwame Obeng opened proceedings with a firm fist beating a hollow thud on a drum. The drum was turned upside down to become a bowl, making an offering to two large masks which hung like icons. At the front of the stage, another sacred object was the focus of Obeng's dance and desires. Some of the symbolic significances were lost, such as when Obeng began a duet with a length of cloth tied to his belt -- better just to concentrate on the dancing.

There were some visceral images: huge swoops of muscular arms, sharp pulses rocking through Obeng's torso, shoulder blades wriggling under his skin. He sprung from the ground as if it were scorching earth, then bowed right down to it. The contemporary influence served to interrupt the dance's rhythmic flow but it didnít really add anything. The development seemed arbitrary and the partner work awkward. Obeng's wide eyes inspired an aura of fear and awe until a second dancer -- Afua Awuku -- appeared, all smiles, and tipped the balance. This was not so much a fusion of styles as a assortment of ideas, and while 'Lonbo' means 'to have knowledge,' I couldn't help feeling we were none the wiser by the end of it.

This article was written for Resolution! Review on the Place's website.† For more, click here:†Resolution! Review

Edited by Lori Ibay

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