For Lunas Dance Project’s latest production Of Myths, Perspectives and Transformations the dark stage space is suggestively characterised and demarcated by dimly glowing suspended light bulbs and scattered empty picture frames; to one side a wooden structure implies giant frames emerging from the floor. An expectation of symbolic significance to match the big theme of emotional change, desire and resistance that choreographer and artistic director Ellie Aldegheri signals in her programme note with reference to works by Kafka and Gabriel Garcia Marquez which have inspired her.

In two parts with a brief interval the piece has no obvious narrative but is divided into six episodes of ensemble dancing interspersed with brief duet encounters or solo phrases, never long enough to conjure character or meaningful situation, despite some portentous titles to the sections; Suspended Pulse 1, Unbecoming, Schuld, Suspended Pulse 2, 32 flavours and Then Some and finally Poetic Ramblings of Existential Delight. The music, a sequence of merging tracks by Nouela, Max Richter, Theodore Shapiro, Eric Serra, Zoe Keating, Peter Gregson, Philip Glass, Nicolas Jaar and Lulu Rouge, provides a continuous filmic score as a lush or pulsing background for the energetic physicality of the hybrid style combining elements of ballet, jazz and contemporary that is familiar from previous Lunas Dance Project performances. Aldegheri opens the work as a solo figure, gradually drawing out individual dancers one by one from a complex sculptural frieze at the back to join her; and to which they return at the end. There are fleet trajectories across the stage, rapid turns and extensions, a reiterated foetal pose of intertwined legs and splayed hands reminiscent of Kafka’s beetle, and near the end a central group of rapid sharply shifting gestures.

Much credit to Aldegheri that she has moulded her six dancers into a cohesive group who perform with commitment and conviction. High necked long sleeved white lycra leotards and bare legs direct audience attention to an aspirational aesthetic of sculptural athleticism, outwardly focused display of the decorativeness and skill of the disciplined human body, a uniformity of earnest endeavour and enjoyment of bodily achievement, rather than the expression of individual emotion and personal transformation. Occasional manipulation of the picture frames or grappling with the wooden structure seemed more about a physical challenge to the dancers or to create a striking visual image than a metaphorical or poetic statement. At one point Aldegheri changed into a black leotard and two dancers wore long black skirts which they tossed vigorously and pulled over their heads; what this signified I could not guess. As a celebration of her own skillful dancing, adroit routines and the enthusiasm she has generated in her students the piece impresses, and received a warm response from a full and sympathetic house; but her choreography seemed an unedited outpouring of steps and sequences without clear expressive intention or obvious reason, bearing little relation to the weighty claims of its title.

Susie Crow

21st June 2015