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Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2005

Ashley Page, Curve Foundation, Rosie Kay Dance Company

by Lea Marshall

August 11, 2005 -- Dance Base, Edinburgh, London

While all five works performed in last night's triple-bill at Dance Base featured polished dancing and engaging choreography, Ashley Page's “Refurbished Behaviour” and Rosie Kay's “Asylum,” both focusing on the nature of relationships, stood out for their fierceness.

In the duet “Refurbished Behaviour,” Page's couple, danced by the Scottish Ballet's Diana Loosmore and Jarkko Lehmus, enmeshed themselves in a web of dark sensuality, sometimes playful, sometimes approaching violent. As the piece opened, Loosmore dragged a small chair onstage, which served as an occasional resting place or as an object of contention, as the mood of the piece demanded. The use of the chair was not integrated enough into the choreography, however, to justify Page's description of the piece as a “trio for two dancers and a chair.”

Through intense expressions and achingly sexy partnering sequences set to music by Louis Andriessen and Wir, Loosmore and Lehmus conjured up that adversarial atmosphere particular to stories of sexual conquest and obsession. Both players jockey for position, for superiority, which can be achieved variously through acquiescence, pursuit, or withholding of favours. Lehmus maintained a mesmerising intensity as he shifted between domination of Loosmore (being in thrall to her), and resenting her power over him (which she plainly enjoyed). During lifts, each dancer curled effortlessly through the space of the other, while some moments of pure unison dancing, and one or two moments stretched flat on the floor, apart, gave both dancers and audience a bit of breathing room.

Rosie Kay and Guillherme Miotto, burdened with plastic shopping bags, struggled wildly—first with each other, and then with themselves-- in Kay's “Asylum.” At the start, Kay clasped Miotto from behind, pinning his arms to his sides, and refused to let go of him, even as he writhed in and out of her hold. She piled more and more shopping bags (hmm…baggage?) onto him, until at last she looped the handle of a giant duffle bag into his right hand, and climbed in the bag herself. A shift in the sound score (by Ian Wallman) seemed to startle both dancers, and sent them into a nervous, twitchy series of movements which escalated into the two wildly flinging themselves onto the floor, oblivious of restraint, of pain, of each other--the asylum of the title nowhere in sight. Both dancers were ferociously committed to the movement, to the truth and immediacy of their experience and, by extension, to that of the audience as well.

Curve Foundation opened the program with two solos. “CervaNtes,” choreographed by Ana Lujan Sanchez and performed in silence by Christophe Carpentier, worked well as a study of technique--a series of side lunges, sustained developpes, and some striking descents into the floor on the tops of his feet gave Carpentier a chance to exercise strength, control, and focus. By contrast, Savalliana, choreographed by Rui Lopes Graca, showcased dancer Soraya Ham's beauty, long lines, and sure, deliberate shaping of movement. The work's crafted grace and Ham's pleasing dignity were complemented by a lush violin score by Francesco Auxerro.

Also on the program was Ashley Page's “Acrid Avid Jam,” which gave us another look at dancers Lehmus and Loosmore, this time with a softer focus—sensual, but relaxed into the rhythm of Aphex Twin's music, which seemed to propel the dancers into long sequences of smooth, organic dancing, characterized by suspensions, gliding lifts, and soft landings.

All in all, this Dance Base programme is a must-see for contemporary dance lovers at the Fringe.

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