Tim Podesta’s unsettling creation for Ballet Cymru explores the darkness that lurks within us, disrupting our relationships with others. It is a work that shakes assumptions about love, gender and sexuality as he pitches his dancers into a series of disconcerting encounters. Although there is no narrative as such, we see a succession of incidents, all told with Podesta’s distinctive part-classical, part-contemporary movement vocabulary. The piece centres around Mara Galeazzi, but this is a company work: every dancer matters and they have all absorbed and internalised Podesta’s style, with its use of strongly arched backs, forward bends hinged at the hips, swift precise hand movements, lifts in which dancers move torso-to-torso, and unexpected pirouette turns spiralling out of one foot.

In the intimacy of a small theatre, it was surprisingly shocking to see women standing with their arms around each other, the hand of one resting on the other’s buttock, or two men starting a lingering adagio with a long drawn out kiss, only to have their duet interrupted by a woman inserting herself between them. The score (recorded tracks by Jean-Phillipe Goude) ranged from strings and percussion to sounds of the rain forest and crackling flames, to which the dancers wove a continually shifting path, exploring the human subconscious. This demanding, virtuoso piece, danced in minimal costumes without scenery against a black background was sometimes beautiful but more often harrowing, as sound, light and movement violently converged in an embodiment of the mind’s inner conflicts. The utter commitment of the dancers, their proximity and eye contact with the audience was unnerving: it was impossible to escape the notion that the dance not only represented universal truths, but also our own, personal, inner desires and hidden thoughts.

Maggie Watson

9 November 2017

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