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From Here to Maturity

'Raft of Reasons', 'I Close My Eyes'

by Lyndsey Winship

April 27-28, 2004 -- Purcell Room, London

Just because they're getting on a bit, doesn't mean that middle aged dancers will pass up an opportunity to show off their still-toned physiques. Baryshnikov did it in red trunks at the Barbican recently, and Tom Yang followed suit tonight in fetching leopard-print briefs. Once an exhibitionist...

From Here to Maturity – a company of ex-professionals directed by former Rambert dancer Ann Dickie – are here to prove that a dancer's career doesn't have to end at 35. And right they are. In fact, in the realm of physical theatre, represented here by a piece from Protein Dance's Luca Silvestrini, age and experience can be a positive advantage. When your work draws on the ideas and experiences of your performers, as Silvestrini's does, an older cast can tell a wealth of stories that just wouldn’t be believable on younger bodies.

"I Close My Eyes" takes a seamless trip through dreams and memories, from childhood to childbirth, loving and longing, through comedy and tragedy. The performances are eloquent and engaging but not as eye-opening as the pure dance of the preceding piece, Matthew Hawkins’s "Raft of Reasons."

"Raft of Reasons" is a duet for Hawkins and Jennifer Jackson, set to sparse solo piano pieces by Liszt, Satie and Debussy. Jackson’s dancing is mesmerising. Her small neat frame is a product of her Royal Ballet training, and her sense of line, grace and poise, her perfect balance and even her ballerina's faraway gaze are still very much part of her make-up.

Usually when we watch ballet on stage we only see one kind of female body, but Jackson shows us what we're missing out on. Her purposeful placings invite us to take note of the the things we normally gloss over: a divine coup de pied for example, or a simple line loaded with sensitivity. The choreography is stark and thoughtful, nothing is wasted, and we can sense that the performers know their bodies extremely well. The couple look birdlike in antique lace and plumes, like fascinating creatures in some distant land where rounded thighs and laughter lines don't mean being put out to pasture.

Edited by Jeff.

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