Bare Bones - ‘Meccanico’, ‘Magnification’, ‘Container’
Patrick Centre, Birmingham, UK; May 17, 2008
Since this show was an early preview of works to be toured from January 2009, it’s rather unfair to do a formal review. After all, there is plenty for things to change. But here are a few immediate thoughts.
‘Meccanico’ was an improvisation structured by DanceXchange Artistic Director, David Massingham. I've performed in structured improv in the past and remember how difficult it is to get right in performance in the sense of making a connection with the audience. This was no exception. The best parts came during those very structured moments, such when three dancers came together in moments of unison and the final very striking pose of all six dancers kneeling facing different directions. The rest featured lots of running and falling to the floor, and a girl apparently fighting something or someone, but never seemed to go anywhere.
According to the programme, Garry Stewart’s ‘Magnification’ puts the inner workings of the body under the microscope. I’m not so sure it achieved that, but what it did do was very effectively use Foley sound effects to illustrate audibly the imagined sounds made by bones and muscles as we stretch and move. Foley effectively involves the recording of sounds then slowing them right down and amplifying certain aspects. So, as Luke Smiles, who put the soundscape together said afterwards, cutting a piece of celery can be made to sound like bones cracking millimetre by millimetre. He also used a water bottle, machinery and goodness knows what else. And it is very effective - for a while. The problem is that the sight of one dancer manipulating another’s body to these noises all becomes a little predictable. It’s something of a relief when the choreography temporarily switches to the faster, athletic dance with lots of fall and recovery that Stewart is best known for.
In making ‘Container’, Rui Horta explained after the show how he turned an empty 9m x 9m space to advantage. The work is quite simply about exploring that space, whether by running, walking, dancing, or simply measuring it with various parts of the body. Sometimes it even seems to develop into a game between the dancers. Who can run across the space and back holding their breath. I somehow think this was great fun to put together. It was certainly great to watch.
These works will be joined by one more for Bare Bone’s 2009 tour.