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Motionhouse Dance Theatre - 'Perfect'

In media res

by David

May 13, 2005 -- Bridge House Theatre, Warwick

Motionhouse’s latest touring production, "Perfect", came home last Friday when it was performed just down the road from their Leamington Spa home.

"Perfect" is about time, the way we witness it and how it affects our lives. Just as time has no beginning, when the audience walks in, it is as if the work has already started. One dancer is already on stage as if asleep but having one of those fitful nights we all know where you cannot ‘switch off’ but toss and turn, your mind pounding away and full of thoughts.

As "Perfect" develops it seems to effectively comprise a series of scenes from everyday life and experience, reflecting hopes, fears, love and anger. There are moments of peace and tranquillity, but others where events seem sometimes to be out of our control and where time is running away from us.

The opening is danced in front of what turns out to be a paper screen, which is slowly peeled back to reveal Simon Dorfman’s constantly changing set, constructed around a rectangular frame used for other Motionhouse works, and the sand on which the whole piece is danced. First, the bottom three feet or so is removed to reveal several pairs of busy legs. All you can see of the dancers is the knees down, yet somehow the interaction is such that I, at least, felt able to almost put a story or complete scene to it.

The rest of the paper screen is eventually removed by first wetting it, then tearing it into vertical strips, then, finally, in a very athletic section, the dancers rip it down and scrunch it up as if in a rage. But suddenly, the anger subsides and, suddenly realising what they have destroyed, it is quietly gathered up, some of the strips becoming flowers to be planted in the sand.

Other scenes follow -- many using the company’s trademark physicality and contact work, moments of which are quite breathtaking. The only part of the evening that didn’t really work for me was the final section where the dancers take to the air using giant slings, sometimes alone, sometimes tangling with each other. The transition from what went before was less smooth and it occasionally seemed contrived. It did however add another dimension to the choreography.

Then suddenly, it is over. As often seems to be the case with very physical works, finding a natural ending is elusive. "Perfect" therefore never quite achieves perfection. It remains just out of reach. But maybe that is the point.

Overall however, Artistic Director Kevin Finnan succeeds brilliantly in drawing us into the world of those we are watching, maybe recognising similar scenes from our own existence. "Perfect" is fun, has something for all and perhaps most important is accessible. It is easy to relate to what is happening in front of us.

Apart from the set, slings and all that sand, there is a great score by Sophy Smith and Tim Dickinson, most of which was written in-situ in the rehearsal studio, making it an integral part of the whole creative process. Talking of being integral, at times the video projections by former Motionhouse dancer Caroline Bridges become part of the choreography. In one scene the dancers on stage are manipulated by her giant projected fingers; manipulated by something outside their control. Again, something we all have felt at some time.

Prior to the main performance, nine Year 9 boys (that is, 14-year olds) from Warwick School gave a high quality performance of "Adrenaline", a ten-minute piece made as part of a short education project by the company. Based on the themes of anger and companionship, and making great use of contact skills and emotion, this showed the excellence of Motionhouse’s outreach work.


Edited by Staff.

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