Cut and RunChoreographer: Martin Lawrance

The fierce cut and jib of this work was evident from the first moment: music and movement battled for dominance, both rhythmic and rigorous. The choreography had a disjointed quality; the many pauses – some fleeting and others broad – prevented a sense of fluid motion. However this suited the music, which had pounding yet uneven rhythms and was often a cacophony of sound. The dancers rarely moved together; instead they seemed to fight, to exist alone, and to defy and reject each other. The level of technical command was impressive: each movement (or sudden stillness) was precise and controlled, and the dancers negotiated dizzying transitions between standing, lying, rolling and turning.

The heavy use of black staging and costume could have created a murky world, but touches of showy gold caught the eye and lifted the tone, adding an edge of glamour. When paired with the angular movements of the choreography and the soundtrack’s electronic components, these metallic edges called to mind something mechanical, almost robotic, fragmenting in the darkness.

CarnavalChoreographer: Richard Alston

In stark contrast to the previous work, this centred around elegance and softness. An accessible narrative formed, with three main characters portrayed by Nicholas Bodych, Elly Braund and Liam Riddick. The costume and lighting designs added to the genteel style, matching Schumann’s lyrical tone – but it would have been interesting to see more development of the darker, richer moments in the suite of pieces, and more departure from the poise and finesse.
Special mention must be given to the pianist, Faith Leadbetter, who played with real vitality and command. It seemed a shame for the piano to be tucked in a corner, unacknowledged for the most part by the choreography – it would have been interesting to see both the musician and the piano itself given a more dominating role in the performance.

Overall the graceful air and nods to historical choreographic styles were pleasing, but it felt as though there was a seam of passion and rawness in Schumann’s scoring which was left untapped.

Gypsy MixtureChoreographer: Richard Alston

The finale of this performance really felt like a breath of fresh air: the music was upbeat and folky, the costumes and lighting were in bright technicolour, and there was a sense of festivity and celebration. It was also encouraging to see the dancers – who were all seamlessly accomplished and dextrous throughout but often had an air of seriousness and formality – smiling at each other and the audience.
Again soloists emerged from the group, bringing individual characters to life, from the laconic Ihsaan de Banya to the fast-paced Liam Riddick and the inimitable, cheeky Nicholas Bodych who had a well-deserved solo spot for the finale.
This colourful and energetic work brought together the pace, dynamism and focus shown earlier in the evening, but with added fun and boldness. It showed a welcome personality and warmth, giving the company an energy that the previous pieces hadn’t. A strong end to the evening that left me wanting to get up and dance.

Jess Ryan-Phillips

26th February 2018