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Dance Company - 'Three Trees Hugging,' 'Divided,' 'Intertwining,' 'Transitions,'
by Julia Skene-Wenzel
April 28, 2004 --
Bonnie Bird Theatre, Laban Centre, London
Transition – a passage or change
from one state to another – a time that can be challenging, especially
when moving from education into professional working life. Dance artists
often find themselves battling through auditions without a support network
and little experience to see them through. This is where Transitions Dance
Company comes in. By allowing its dancers to gain an insight of working
with a company while still relying on an institutional safety net, it
successfully bridges both worlds. Over the past twenty years, it has enabled
artists to work with international choreographers and tour a full program.
The Transitions' 2004 London premiere has opened at the company's home,
the Laban Centre. Under the direction of David Waring, a strong cast of
nine dancers has developed four new commissions and one reconstruction
of a former repertoire piece. With youthful enthusiasm and relentless
energy, this year's company impresses not only with a well-polished performance,
but also with its display of individual talent and the ability to grasp
and perform a variety of theatrical styles.
American Victor Quijada's "Three Trees Hugging" explores the
emotional context of meetings and partings. From physical isolation to
the inherent power struggle in relationships, the piece sheds light onto
human interaction. Torn between yielding towards and the defiance of contact,
three dancers allow elements of body popping to seamlessly interlink with
Also drawing on a variety of influences,
the reconstruction of "Divided" combines Indian dance with martial
arts and North American dance. Supported by Lars Jensen's dazzling lighting
design, Roger Sinha's blend of Eastern and Western culture creates a sensual
swirl of color, sound and motion.
Unfortunately, Willi Dorner's "Intertwining"
opens with a lonely silhouette reaching into a spotlight. The same opening
is used by both previous pieces and therefore seems rather dull, a regrettable
oversight by the programmer. The Austrian choreographer challenges with
acrobatic partnering sequences, but the piece is a development of an existing
duet, and it shows. The movement vocabulary was no doubt intriguing in
its original format, but seems limited in a sextet.
Rafael Bonachela closes the program
with "trans[odiem]*," a piece inspired by movement itself. His
work comprises and effortlessly moves from commercial to the avant-garde
and is the perfect vehicle for the company. It allows the cast to do what
they do best – just dance. Limbs are scissoring through the space; weight
shifts towards gravity while jumps and daring lifts appear out of the unexpected
– an appropriate finish for a promising group of new dancers who pulsate
the space and enthuse their audience.
Representation of the perfect dance body and traditional frameworks of
beauty form the basis for Miguel Pereira's exploration, "Transitions."
Pushing the limits of contemporary dance, the Portuguese choreographer
is renowned for his daring performance art. "Transitions'" transition
involves all nine company members who shed their individuality and gradually
merge into a collectively smiling, slightly creepy group of animated,
dancing tuxedos. In a piece full of surprises, chairs replace dancers
as moving objects and the soundscape solemnly consists of its participants'
voices. Its grounding in European Dance Theatre adds another genre to
the students' repertoire, but while it makes a clear statement, it also
remains too close to the surface and thus does not escape related cliché
In the subsequent question and answer section, they seem happy and confident,
looking ahead to a career in dance. It is this quality that Transitions
Dance Company hopes to inspire in their students, and this year's graduates
are a manifest to these aspirations.
Edited by Lori Ibay
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