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 Post subject: Other reviews
PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2001 6:00 am 
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Having pulled together the reviews for the competition, I thought I might as well pull the other ones together in one place. Especially as it is a help to Tony Shepherd, the Dance Umbrella Press Representative, who wants to print out copies of all the CriticalDance reviews. <P><B>Martha@The Criterion </B>by Cassandra<P>“Martha”, at the Criterion last night, was great fun, a humorous dig at the world of modern dance and Martha Graham’s contribution to it. The very imposing Richard Move impersonated Ms Graham and presented a regal figure with a great awareness of her own importance. Was this an accurate account of Martha Graham? It may have been, I have to confess that I know little about the personality of Ms Graham despite having grappled with the Graham technique for some time (and losing).<BR>Move tells us much about her thoughts and aspirations through a blend of humour and high camp illustrated with extracts from some of Graham’s most famous works together with a small group of dancers sharing the joke with much obvious enjoyment.<P>Among the special guests last night was Sheron Wrey dancing the Jane Dudley solo, Harmonica Breakdown. A hugely enjoyable piece extremely well performed. Robert Hylton danced a solo choreographed by himself entitled “A Step into Urban Classicism” to a piece of music called “Class Struggle in Music II” – nice title that! <P>In the second half of the programme, Martha displayed her interviewing skills by interrogating Matthew Bourne. Her interviewing technique is clearly inspired by that of Edna Everidge who used to enjoy belittling her interviewees at every opportunity. Bourne confessed to having had difficulty with the Graham classes he had attended and that his back hadn’t been the same since. He clearly shocked Martha when he confided that his future plans included work with Disney. “DISNEY?!” Martha was not amused.<P>The final guest on the programme was Zenaida Yanowsky of the Royal Ballet dancing a solo called Nisi Dominus by William Tuckett to music from Monteverdi’s Vespers. There are certain pieces of music that are perfect on their own without the addition of dance and this was one of them.<P>This is a very unusual show, as the modern dance world has never been noted for its sense of humour, yet Richard Move is extremely funny and clearly knows all there is to know about his subject. Most importantly the audience has a very good time. Martha appears on two nights only, and the performance tonight includes a work by Mark Morris.<BR><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited November 14, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Other reviews
PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2001 11:12 am 
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<B>Walker Dance</B> by Melanie <P><BR>Walker Dance was sold out some two weeks in advance and I hear through a friend that Val Bourne apologised to Fin Walker for booking them for only the one show. Things were not helped during the incoming as apparently only one box office member of staff had turned up, and there were few ushers so the newly refurbished Robin Howard Dance Theatre came under scrutiny. It appears that, although it may seat 300, it doesn't cater for a full house very comfortably - the bar being choc-a-bloc beforehand and during the interval. However, I cant imagine that anyone would have been disappointed in the performance itself. The first piece, a solo choreographed and performed by Fin Walker entitled 'Moment to Moment' was entrancing. Walker is an incredible mover, precise yet free, and the the piece was visually stunning. Blue strip lights hung from the ceiling which gave the stage space a limited, box like feel which framed the movement. The piece, at only 18 minutes long, ended before you wanted it to - which in an odd sort of way I liked. 'Tis better to be left wanting after all.<P>The 'trio for five people' - 'The Three of Us' was equally well choreographed and performed. The addition of a live band onstage was a bonus and I felt the dancers reacted to that and performed all the better for it. The movements relied on weight transferance, as one dancer would manipulate another, initiating movement by the push of a hand on a thigh, catching a dancer at the depth of a plie, dancers folding and enveloping eachother like a human jigsaw. The movements were again crisp and precise with no stumbling or fumbling. Val Bourne was right. This company certainly deserves to be seen.<P><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited November 14, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Other reviews
PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2001 11:27 am 
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<B> Chaleroi Dans - 'Moving Target'</B> by Stuart Sweeney<P>If you enjoy strong visuals and video projection than this is a show for you. Saturday night is your last chance to see it though. There were plenty of empty seats last night so you should be able to get into the QEH. You'll find details above. <P>The work was inspired by the journals of Nijinski and starts with a witty short film about feet. Periodically we then see a series of spoof pharmaceutical adverts extolling 'a chemical way to a better life'.<P>The centrepiece of the dazzling visuals is a large reflectng surface which swings down from the ceiling to hang at an angle above the stage. This enables us to watch the dancers from above as well as directly and when the dancers lie on the floor they can perform impossible acrobatics, a bit like Decoufle one has to admit, but still fun. Later there are images projected onto the floor of the stage which can be seen in normal perspective in reflection. Sometimes we see in the mirror dancers live on stage, the projected images and dancers seen through the screen. All quite dizzying.<P>This surface brilliance, enhanced by clever changing use of lighting is combined with adequate, but not outstanding movement from the capable dancers. Themes of 'normalcy' and society's urge to control our behavious recur throughout, but I did find myself rather distracted by the torrent of visual effects.<P>Definitely worth a trip if, like me, you enjoy multi-media performances. <P><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited November 14, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Other reviews
PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2001 11:32 am 
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<B>'Trajets' - an ICA installation</B> by Stuart Sweeney<P>Trajets is a small, but distinctive pleasure. In a darkened space, about 10 curved sheets of scrim are suspended from the ceiling and can turn in response to motion sensors. It works best apparently when there are 4 or so people interacting with the installation. White light and images are projected onto the sheets. There is some Brian Eno-like ambient sound. <BR>As I wandered about I saw moire patterns on the sheets and curved lines on the faces of the other spectators as the light fell on them from through the scrims. The occasional images are broken by the separation of the scrims and provide an range of abstract textures. <P>I was fascinated by the movement of the sheets and whether it was random or really due to my walking about at different speeds. A toddler was equally fascinated. Overall, a good 15-20 minutes of visual experience. <p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited November 14, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Other reviews
PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2001 12:04 pm 
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<B>'Weak Dance, Strong Questions'</B> by Stuart Sweeney<P>Jonathan Burrows has been at the forefront of cutting edge dance in the UK for a decade or more. He now spends part of his time in Brussels teaching at PARTS, one of the leading dance schools in Europe and mixing with other avant-garde artists. It is from his discussions there with a fellow teacher, Jan Ritsema, that this programme developed. The intriguing thing is that the mid-50s Ritsema is not a trained dancer, but a drama specialist. So 'Weak Dance, Strong Questions' is not based on technical virtuosity, which has been one of the many facets that Burrows has traditionally brought to his art. <BR>We entered the flat lit space with the two guys standing there and saying a few hellos and pointing people here and there. Then Burrows announced the title, tells us that it will last 50 minutes and they're off. No music, no change to the lighting, no technique and no structure that I could discern. So what happened? Well, they moved about. It doesn't sound very interesting and perhaps it seems the antithesis of a theatrical event. One thing's for sure if this was someone's second exposure to dance, with the first being 'Riverdance', then they would be in for a cultural shock of earthquake proportions.<P>I found myself engaged by the performance right through. Burrows is a great mover and it remains interesting even when he is just walking with much arm and body movement, almost and sometimes actually falling off balance and clearly not trying to making exquisite shapes.<P>Ritsema plays his part too, partly as a counterbalance to Burrows but also in the uninhibited way he approaches dance as a non-dancer. A characteristic pose is with this feet crossed setting up a tension in his rather bulky frame. Towards the end he moves faster for a short period as if in some sort of reverie. Everyone was baffled how he managed to avoid getting blisters in his sturdy black leather street shoes.<P>In a post-performance talk Burrows told us that he felt closer in this piece to an essence in his work than he had ever felt before. We heard some good stories about the reactions of audiences aroung Europe. Usually about 10% leave and 10% fall asleep. One man left with the cry, 'Weak dance yes, strong questions, NO!', which both the performers had enjoyed. In Slovenia the audience just laughed all the time. <P>They told us that these reactions had little or no impact on the work, so intereaction with the audience is not what it's about. Rather it is their own relationship before the performance that is more crucialas they prepare. <P>Apparently they initially tried the piece with music for the final part. The tiny audience for a work in progress showing were angrily divided about what they had seen, but in complete agreement that it would have been better without the music.<P>I read last week that one German critic has made it one of his best new works of the year. I wouldn't go that far, but I was pleased to see it and to know that artists are still questionning where they and the art form are going. <P>


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 Post subject: Re: Other reviews
PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2001 12:40 pm 
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<B>Batsheva Dance Company - 'Sabotage Baby'</B><P><B>Stuart Sweeney</B><P>Dance Umbrella 2001 got off to a fine start last night with 'Sabotage Baby' by Ohad Naharin's Batsheva Dance Company. Here in London we have previously seen theatrical and light-hearted works by Naharin such as Rambert's 'Axioma 7' an NDT2's 'Minus 16'. 'Sabotage Baby' is much darker, paricularly in the first half, but the theaticality is there in spades. <P>Much of this is due to Dutch musicians Thijs van der Poll and Peter Zegveld who provide an extraordinary live musical soundscape. At the back of the stage dressed in overalls and goggles they move around a mass of industrial paraphanalia producing rhythmic scraping and booming sounds and then brake off to give us a banjo duet. <P>The dancers respond to this engrossing, but often bleak, score with initially slow movement which breaks down into tortured shaking at regular intervals. Relationships are troubled and end in rejection. The Batsheva dancers are very strong and they perform movement which is driven at first from the knees and the waist producing a distinctive quality. When disparate moves become unison the effect is especially powerful. Later a girl on stilts strides among the dancers with predatory steps. <P>After the interval the tone is lighter. A beautiful trio offers more hope for relationships; the musicians sing an exquisite duet and then hilariously accompany a Japanese tale in Noh style with speech and sound effects. Although more episodic than the first half, the audience really warmed to this less tormented aspect of the Company and after a finale full of superb ensemble dancing and rich choregraphy, the dancers and the musicians received rapturous applause. <P>**************************<P><B>DianeP</B><P>Those who visited the Barbican on 3rd October to witness the opening night of the 2001 Dance Umbrella festival found themselves drawn into a fantastical world; a world of peculiarities and contradictions, in which the human and the mechanical existed alongside the otherworldly. <BR>As the company’s eighteen dancers nonchalantly swaggered to congregate on the stage, the house-lights slowly dimmed and the auditorium doors gradually closed, sealing us in and apparently consigning us to our fate. Events quickly took a sinister turn as casual head-nodding and bent-kneed, rhythmic, foot-<BR>shuffling gave way to spasmodic jerking and writhing and rabid head-rolling. Just as startlingly, the churning mass dispersed and the performance became a singular demonstration of technical prowess and artistry; curves, rolls, arches and extensions that seemed at odds with what had gone before but was executed with such astonishing beauty that it was difficult to experience any kind of malcontent. Confusion, yes; uneasiness, certainly; but this was merely the beginning and it soon became apparent that the only thing to do was to sit back and allow the wave of weirdness to wash over me.<P>Providing both an audible and visual backdrop to the activity was an array of unique and bizarre instruments; machinery and gadgets retired from their original purpose and given a new lease of life on the stage. The distant mambo music that initially accompanied the ensemble gathering gave way to shrieks, rumbles and violent belches of industrial noise, contributing to the ominous transformation and sending icy slivers of delicious foreboding down the spine. The sudden appearance of a menacingly demonic figure on stilts, striding among the dancers like some gigantic predatory insect, only served to fortify the sense of trepidation and alarm. <P>Yet a glistening thread of humanity throughout the piece saved this from being a totally alienating experience. In spite of the eerie nature of the work, it also, paradoxically, remained reassuringly, earthily, human. This was due in part to the feather-light touches of wit sprinkled throughout, evinced by the odd eruption into song or rhyme, or the sudden, unanimous move into ersatz samba. Incomprehensible as a whole Sabotage Baby may have been, but the potency of this theatrical event will certainly stay with me for a long time. <P><BR><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited November 14, 2001).]


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