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Selfish Shellfish (Germany) 'Dressed Dance,' Erica Stanton and Dancers 'Matter of Gravity,' Kate Brown 'having begun'

by Vicky Costello

February 6, 2004 -- The Place, London

Selfish Shellfish (Germany)
"Dressed Dance"

Choreographed and performed by Katja Wachter

"Dressed Dance" was in part an exploration of the role clothes play in influencing or masking our personalities, and in part (according to the programme notes) a reaction to the proliferation of undressing in contemporary dance.

The piece opened with Katja Wachter in black knickers and vest, swathed in metallic light and music, moving with precision through a dynamic stream of isolated yet elastic movement, grabbing at her clothes and body and revealing sections of skin. It then continued with a more theatrical mood, as Wachter moved about the stage putting on various clothes from plastic bags. As she added and disregarded items of clothing, she took on different personalities and movement quirks, shifting between suspended movement, disjointed text, lashing arms, and sweeping falls. Predictably, the music changed too, to reflect each mood. At one stage, whilst uttering what might have been excerpts of a phone conversation or a diary, Wachter put on three versions of the same top, identical but for the varying labels, notes, and photographs that were attached.

The piece ended on a satirical note, as one by one, planted performers (many of whom were staff from The Place) rose from the audience and walked onto the stage, where they began to slowly remove items of clothing, as Wachter, seemingly unaware, continued to dance between them.

Katja Wachter's exploration of the topic could have been deeper, but nevertheless "Dressed Dance" was a thoughtful, well performed, and reasonably entertaining piece.

Erica Stanton and Dancers
"Matter of Gravity"

Directed and Choreographed by Erica Stanton
Choreographed and performed by Marina Collard, Fiona Edwards, Amanda Gough, Sonia Rafferty

"Matter of Gravity" presented a calm flow of movement and a cacophony of sounds. The piece explored falling, resulting in a constant, smooth stream of swinging, rocking, and suspensions. The four female dancers largely seemed to be caught in their own individual stream of movement, coming together for seemingly chance moments of contact or unison. The work had some captivating moments of simple suspension and falling -- in fact, it was the simplest moments that were the most interesting.

A line-up of experienced dancers can often help a Resolution! work stand out from the rest. But, unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to make "Matter of Gravity" shine. The piece was performed well, but was generally bland.

Kate Brown
"having begun"
Choreography by Kate Brown
Dancers: Kate Brown, Kate Gower, Henry Montes, David Waring

"having begun" was a captivating exploration into the act of beginning. The opening section looked like a moment within a rehearsal, with each of the four dancers sitting around the stage absorbed in writing notes. We can't be sure what they were writing, but a fair assumption would be that they were working out how to begin. One by one they got up and began a movement phrase. Then just as soon as they'd started, they stopped. This decision/failure/necessity to stop, having just begun, was reflected in the soundscore, which introduced various tunes and styles, only to silence them within seconds.

As the piece progressed, so too did the level of movement. However, whilst the dancers were moving for longer periods of time, the movement was still constantly exploring the notion of the beginning. During one section, the dancers traveled across the stage and back again, passing a chain of movements across the group, with one beginning starting another. During another, a series of lifts explored the moment when flight might begin. A particularly intriguing section played with starting at the wrong time, with amusing and clever results. The soundscore was as successful as the movement in building the concept. As the performance progressed, the disjointed stopping and starting of music became sounds consumed by white noise to produce strange, hypnotic tunes.

"having begun" took a simple concept and revealed its complexity through thoroughly considered choreography and superb performance.

Edited by Lori Ibay

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