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The Place Prize First Semi-Final

Jean Abreu - 'Urge', Marie-Gabriele Rotie - 'Brutality of Fact', Tharan Revfem - 'Dot', Marie-Louise Flexen - 'Lost', Bawren Tavaziva - 'Umdlalo Kasisi'

Sense and brutality

by Thea Nerissa Barnes

September 8, 2004 - Robin Howard Theatre, London

Jean Abreu choreographed "Urge", a duet he performed with David Hughes. This duet intended to explore “the nature of urges and how they define us”. It began with the dancers in place as the audience filed in to take their seats. Once there was an appreciable quietness in the theatre the lights descended and the dance began. There seemed to be at least four sections of different explorations with associated dynamics. Mostly, though, this dance seemed to lack a destination and though physical was more heady than visceral, as if in contemplation of where to go instead of being there. There was some interesting projected imagery that seemed more like the sense of smell or touch instead of, as the title hinted, a supposed liminal feel. This work in the end seemed to not quite fullfil its point.

Marie-Gabriele Rotie choreographed "Brutality of Fact". This work was danced intensely by Rotie, Pei-Jen Tsai and Yuan Zhang. Its inspiration was the 1944 Triptych Studies for figures at the base of a crucifixion by Francis Bacon. Its movement aesthetic was tempered by Rotie’s knowledge of Japanese theatre and aesthetics. The dancers’ moves, varied shapes in standing, sitting and then moving through space, conjured all matter of angst and disgust with reaches of legs, arms and head. All postures had a particular resonance that brought their own sense of horror at the sight of unspeakable torment. From the sparse vocal sounds to the clarity in movement shapes of contortion, balance and flow, it was evident that Rotie had a clear vision and the specific compositional tools to render this extraordinary work.

Tharan Revfem choreographed "Dot". This work, danced by Annika Sillander, Jessica Andrews & Helle Siljeholm and a mischievous full stop punctuation mark, was an amusing display of the coordination between technology and dance movement. An old idea takes a twist with video footage by Nikolaj Bendix and Skyum Larsen, using familiar iconic photographs of notable past events, famous persons and victims of horror. Have I seen something like this accompanying the music of Philip Glass? Perhaps but the predictability of this work did not lessen its ability to tickle the funny bone. The dancers’ robotic moves in front of the video screen, simultaneously casting their shadows on the images, were brought to a full stop (no pun intended) and the full stop punctuation mark took over. By the end of the dance the dot took the lead and changed the dynamic of the dancers from being hit on the head, feet and hands to bullets then bubbles that the dancers expelled or followed. Eventually the dot relinquished its hold and the video returns with the robotic moves ending with the video footage a dot on the centre dancer’s chest; could be read as significant but really only retrograde video kitsch.

Marie-Louise Flexen choreographed "Lost". This was a solo performed by Emma Teixidor. This work began simply with the protagonist entering from the house left aisle, opening a white box, perhaps a closet (?) to reveal a man’s suit jacket. Teixidor stood simply gazing with back to the audience at this jacket hanging on a hook. With the metaphor implied, Teixidor then moved, took the jacket, put it on and then began a passage of movement from downstage right to upstage left. With a strong beam of light Teixidor stood and dropped to the floor with scan effort but indicating a visual focus of searching. This passage varied dynamically but not enough to indicate the depth of her loss or the importance of something or someone lost; the movement accelerated, the torso and arms dramatic inference becoming more realised toward the end. At this point gesticulations with focus and manipulation of the jacket indicated a search then a key found in the jacket pocket. A red spot centre stage added significance to this moment of found ness [discovery]. Teixidor returning to the closet (?), slides the key to the red spot, exiting the way she entered. Clean idea constructed in a white space but only hinted at inferences.

Bawren Tavaziva choreographed "Umdlalo Kasisi". This work was performed by Tavaziva and his dancers: Navala Chaudhari, Jake Nwogu, Keisha Grant, and Yamuna Devi Chaudhari. Taking its inspiration from the death of a loved one this work was neither a narration nor a recollection of a past debilitating event. This was more a nonliteral landscape painting that came alive with a rich, lush movement vocabulary. The dancers performed in costumes of reds and beige that doubled as lapas, head wraps, or mourning clothes. The lighting focused intricate ensemble work or textured the surface creating an close intimate space that the dancers filled admirably with technical prowess and dramatic intensity. The lighting and the music worked to intensify this vision of heart felt introspection while the imagery created illustrated varied moments of amity and remembrance. Tavaziva’s music also supported the varied moods; at times caring and sorrowful or through the opportunity for reflection, time for reconciliation. Here too a was a work that had a clear vision and the specific compositional tools to render a beautiful work.

The Place Prize Audience scores for this evening were as follows:
1. "Dot" 33%,
2. "Umdlalo Kasisi" 22%
3. "Lost" 18%
4. "Urge" 14%
5. "Brutality of Fact" 13%

Edited by Jeff.

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