‘Red or White,’ ‘Mesmerics,’ ‘Dearest Love,’ and ‘Torsion’
March 26, 2003 – Queen Elizabeth
George Piper Dances are not only
exceptionally talented – they are also very clever. Before the performance
has even begun, they have awarded themselves five stars, and titled their
show ‘Critics Choice.’ They are guys in jeans dancing against any odds,
any stereotypes and any explicit overtones of the sexual, political or
social variety. They are strong and talented, look super cool and have
a sense of humour to boot, seen not least in the outtakes at the end.
In short, they are real people, doing a real job. Not prima ballerinas,
not wannabes. Modern choreographers, modern movers creating dance in a
fresh and funky way – keeping it real.
Their video documentary-cum-performance details the exploits of a group
of men, plus the strutting, flitting, whippet like Oxana Panchenko, with
outstanding classical technique, collaborating with contemporary choreographers.
Rather than being faced purely with a string of dances, we witness the
intimate and touching relationships between company members, which somehow
makes us feel that we have gotten to know them; thus we understand their
pieces that little bit more - we are aware of where the dances came from
and how they have grown in the artistic process of development. The video
projection also turns the dance performance into a more accessible media
arts event and rejuvenates our attention spans in between dances.
Any choreographic clichés throughout the works are made good by the combination
of familiarity with originality. For example, in ‘Red or White,’ Akram
Khan’s intricate Indian Classical gestures nestle amongst fairly typical
floorwork - the movements seem as casual as the ‘erms’ and ‘yeahs’ of
the accompanying deeply personal speech. Similarly, despite the repetition
in Wheeldon’s ‘Mesmerics’, we are spellbound by the two bodies fitting
together and slipping apart; Russell Maliphant somehow leaves us flabbergasted
at his creation which centres around that over-practised class trust technique
of falling and catching each other by various body parts. Innovative and
unique visual gems lie amid customary contemporary movement, furthering
the sense of informality created by our ‘inside knowledge’ of the company.
It is refreshing to be presented with clarification as opposed to interpretation.
Matthew Bourne tells us that his duet ‘Dearest Love’ is a reaction to
current aggressive depictions of homosexuality on stage. The result is
a light hearted piece complete with a few flicks, kicks, pas de chats
and a starry sky. Combined with Michael Hulls Art Deco lighting patterns,
the mood is light, and the performance radiant.
The evening’s fin de siecle, "Torsion" (2000), is a game with
gravity. The dancers seem forced to fall, jump and land; they are caught
off balance but swiftly regain their cool with efficiency of flow so fluent
that it is almost body popping. “Torsions’” contact work leaves the audience
guessing where the next movement will take the dancers, and us. Which
level will come next? What will be the outcome of the next gymnastic reposition?
Which gap between their bodies will the dancers slide through, or fall
over, or hop on to? And the words “What will George Piper Dances do next?”
continue to echo on everybody’s lips as they leave the auditorium. If
it’s anything like this – choreographic certainty, exquisite dancing,
and fine layer of originality, then by George, we can’t wait.
Edited by Jeff.
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