Based on T.S.Eliot’s Four Quartets, this piece was an impressive performance from a young dancer-choreographer and his fellow artists. The structure was of four separate chapters (one for each section of a poem) which worked well, although there was room for even more space for the audience to assimilate each individual section. The programme described the overall narrative as ‘from a place of being lost to a state of empowerment and acceptance’ and this certainly came across: the figures seemed to be searching and grasping at the start, and by the end they had become more animated, grounded and secure.

The piece began softly – a solo figure whose movements began as small shifts, and gradually escalated into full body twists and turns. There was a sense that each movement rippled through the whole body, from toes to shifting head movements which were almost animalistic, organically flowing – but rarely sharp, so the effect was of an undulating surface. This was particularly striking in the third section, which was based around a poem about the ocean; even without awareness of this content (having not read the programme yet), I immediately saw waves and water in the figures. Perhaps this was also influenced by the blue costumes – each slightly different in hue and designs, and all elegantly tailored.

This softness continued throughout, and was echoed in the lighting, which was intimate but perhaps on the simplistic side (the post-show Q&A revealed that this is still being developed), though it certainly didn’t detract from the performance. The music, too, added to the character and narrative of the work – an original score of strings and piano was modernised with some electroacoustic sounds, and played a big part in creating the close, intimate atmosphere. It was interesting to hear, in the discussion afterwards, that the music had been developed very much alongside the choreography – this made sense, as they seemed to flow sympathetically in each section.

Another element that deserves mention was the relationships between all four dancers, Iris Borras Anglada, Richard Chappell, Francesco Migliaccio and Faye Stoeser. They communicated with each other continuously through eye contact, facial expressions and constant connections; sometimes not physically touching, but always reacting to each other, creating such a close world that the audience were very much observers, sometimes barely acknowledged. There was also an impressive lack of gender stereotyping – which was also remarked upon favourably during the Q&A – which was refreshing. In particular, to see the women bearing the weight of the men (both from balances/floor work and actual lifts) was a powerful message, and gave the characters a true equality.

Overall, this was an impressive performance which I greatly enjoyed, and I will certainly be looking out for further performances from the company.

Jess Ryan-Phillips

17th March 2018

Advertisements