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Juschka Weigel - 'Life is Too Short ...?'; United Dance Artists - 'Parallels'; Lapsus Corpi - 'QUADish-ish'

Too long, too short, and just right

by Christine de Leon

January 29, 2005 -- Robin Howard Theatre, The Place, London

Saturday night’s programme featured a solo and two group pieces. The show opened with German artist Juschka Weigel. The debut of her highly personal solo piece ‘Life is too short to dance with an ugly man?’ was about 20 minutes too long. Her quirky, idiosyncratic movement was set to an old school drum and bass track, which quickly overpowered her own performance. The first half of the dance Weigel had her back to the audience, dancing in her own little world. Then, a band of stark light suddenly hits the back scrim, she puts on a headset, faces the audience and confronts us with some dissonant electronic music. She then pours a glass of water over herself, soaking her white silk pyjamas. She contorts on the floor in various impossible positions, gracefully morphing from one to the next. These contortions reacted to and contrasted the sounds of a clunky piece of industrial machinery. There was something poignant about this last set of images that engaged the audience.

I am tired of watching bad 'performance art' at dance festivals. Does anyone else feel this way?

Next up was "Parallels" by the United Dance Artists, made up of choreographer/director Rashpal Singh Bansal, and dancers, Tanya Arshamian, Tim Morris, Frederick Opoku-Addaie and Hanna Tatham. This collaborative work was in contrast to the opening piece, about 20 minutes too short and I could have watched an entire evening of this spellbinding performance. The piece plays on the theme of opposites, and inspires duets, solos and group work that weave in and out of each other at breathtaking speed. The lines were long and clean, broken up here and there with a tilt and an edgy lift accentuated by Bansal’s signature arm and hand gestures – all beautifully accompanied by an excellent soundtrack.

Although a couple of the choreographic transitions felt a bit weak in places, in all the work was superbly crafted. The dancers were incredibly precise in the ensemble work, and as individual performers.  One was absolutely intoxicated by their commitment to the work. As a result, this was one of the most exciting dance pieces I’ve seen programmed at The Place in years. I do believe that if this collective choose to continue to work together under the auspices of ‘United Dance Artists’, it would be the beginning of something very exciting in British dance. It’s a bit like discovering a young unsigned band before they hit the big time.

"QUADish-ish" rounded up Resolution's Saturday night programme. It was a very lively and entertaining piece of physical theatre with a spectacular cast of 16 performers. I don't know Beckett's play for television to which Efronsini Protopapa refers, but I was captivated by the clever improv devices used to struture the work. The piece began with dancers criss-crossing the stage in rollerblades. Then day-glow green duct tape drew the play space - a square divided by big X. Dancers would meet, interact, bring out maps, and repeat gestures and sequences along these paths. Variations on this theme played itself out in another sequence that used red duct-tape on top of the green. Strong performance by all the players on stage and their enthusiasm was contagious. The audience really enjoyed the work and despite its repetitous nature, it wasn't too long.

Edited by Jeff

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