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Device Dance - 'Detail of the Surface'; M Group - 'The Caryatids'; a words - 'This is where you end, and I begin'

by Thea Nerissa Barnes

January 31, 2005 -- The Place, London

"Detail of the Surface" -- choreography and concept by Daniel Vais.

This work needs a rethink. This perspective may be wrong but the choice to use performers to make a political statement about the making of dance, the use of protagonists that represent stereotypes that offend, and the disregard for the responsibilities in the practice of dance making implicit in the choice to use a predominance of mundane movement over a reified movement vocabulary, whether conventional or newly discovered, requires a rigorous, astute choreographic skill. In this work, the use of mundane movement became a banality.  Those few moments that succeeded were overshadowed by the enormity of superficiality and unoriginal choreographic strategies. Additionally, the performers appeared to lack the experience to make their improvised encounters interesting or convincing. There was a trust between the performers but the event seemed more like a theatre school exercise than an effort to make theatre.

"The Caryatids' -- choreography by Miwa Saeki.

With choreography by Miwa Saeki and her dancers. This was a good work and a fine effort. The work begins with six females with four in point shoes and two bare footed. This sets the tone of the work an inspiration for Saeki found in the Caryatids, Greek statues in Athens. The starting point for the work seems the juxtaposition or contrast of classical ballet movements with Graham stylised movements. This is a strategy for contrast for movements that result in a poetic use of spatial interactions and relationships.

Kei Akahoshi, Amy Hollins, Caroline Lynn and Elizabeth Martin in pointe shoes stretch from the floor with linearity of line and smoothness of pirouette and bourrée with their soft flowing costumes dance together and are supported by bare footed and similarly dressed Kerry-Ann Henry and Miwa Saeki, who bend and fracture the same lines turning with ease slipping into the floor and jumping with aplomb. The appearance of Authur Kyeyune adds the layer of drama adding tension between this male protagonist and the female antagonist.

The females’ interaction is not especially flirtatious, but there is a warm closeness between them, a caring that prepares for a duet between Kyeyune and Ben Key. This duet is elegant in its eroticness and personal. Luckily, it just misses being brazen. Kyeyune’s solo is the culmination of the opposition performed by the ladies with its fine tuned classical lines stretched and extenuated when chosen, or curved and angled as he jumped or rolled into the floor. Like the women on pointe, Key provides the contrast to Kyeyune’s prowess. Shared sensibility and care for each other hinted to a black and white metaphor for sharing and contribution, as the linearity of ballet was shared with the angularity of Graham and curve of Africanist sensibilities as they appeared in the movement sequences. The work was a good effort that on reflection could be refined with some editing and development of Kyeyune and Key’s relationship to the women. Also Saeki might have a rethink of the costumes for Kyeyune and Key, which from this perspective made a derogatory political statement.

"This is Where You End, and I Begin' - choreography by Andreas Drydral.

Concept, design and direction for this work are by Andreas Dyrdal. Beginning with a monologue describing personal issues, a dancer sitting downstage left begins to move. Gestural joint moves with the knee and hip while sitting build to standing arm and torso gestures. There is not the lyrical transition and progress through space. This is gesture on top of gesture building in speed and force to culminate then suspend. Another dancer enters and stands mid stage while a feedback hum is heard. Her gestural moves build dynamically and include a pirouette, reaches of leg and arm. A hand gesture is incorporated then develops into a caress of leg and hip. This solo finishes and the dancer exits.

There is a duet of simple hand, head and arm gestures between a woman and a man then a second duet enters with the same type of moves. The work continues and soon all four dancers sit on the floor providing spoken text with their eyes closed. This section is done with the house lights up and the audience revealed. The three females then perform abstracted gestures that have no lyrical ness, barely moving from statue like positions. There is some progression through levels and moving through space achieved with small steps. A pulse tone sound provides the rhythm.

Near the end a female dancer takes a position stage left while the only male dancer, the choreographer Dyrdal, speaks into a microphone stage right. As the lights darken on Dyrdal, the lights on the female dancer are enhanced. This one solo seems the most emotive and is performed with confidence in intention. Each gesture spoke of affection and yearning with the last position with its high arch, out reached arms and open hands - a simple, discreet metaphor for all that had gone before. The monologues and video were both part of the work but seemingly extraneous to the honesty in the movement.

One wonders what work would be more effective: an episodic presentation of just the movement or this speaking and video presentation that decorates the space with its spoken text but doesn’t necessarily accentuate what was intended. It would definitely be a different dance work, but perhaps for some of us a more fulfilling performance.

Edited by Jeff

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