Grey Matter – Choreography: Benoit Swan Pouffer

There was a lot of drama in this piece, from the striking white sheer costumes with splatters of blood-like red, to the beating bass of the music by GAIKA. The dancers appeared almost animalistic, and there was certainly an undercurrent of threat throughout the piece. There was a constant shifting between fluidity – the dancers writhing in a serpentine manner – and violence at other points, as they crept on tiptoe as if stalking prey.
Some strong characters broke away from the crowd, with some sense of narrative through the piece, but overall there was a sense of anonymity, without a huge amount of interaction between the dancers. This sometimes gave a strong vision of a faceless crowd with some individuals trying to escape; but at other times, the stage felt a little too ‘busy’ and it wasn’t always easy to follow the direction of the piece. However it was certainly an engaging start to the evening, and the edginess of the choreography was matched by the lighting, soundtrack and costumes, so it felt like a cohesive world.

E2 7SD – Choreography: Rafael Bonachela

This duet was a constant fight for dominance between the two dancers. There was an angular, jagged quality to the movements, with some exceptional control of technique on display – in particular at moments where the dancers would go from perpetual motion to freezing, and then seamlessly back to high-energy movement. The soundtrack included some spoken narration, and again it was extremely impressive that the dancers matched their movements exactly to the pace and nuance of the words.
There seemed to be a clear narrative throughout the piece – at the start, the couple were intertwined and moving continuously in each other’s orbits, with the male seemingly having command. Through the middle of the piece they became distant, and as it drew to a close, they moved towards one another again, but this time with the woman seeming more in control.
Despite dancing often in a very intimate and connected way, there was a constant sense of combat and struggle between the two dancers, which was enhanced by the stark lighting; often only a single spotlight was in use, bathing the rest of the stage in darkness and adding to the feeling that the audience was somehow spying on this couple through their power struggle.

Killer Pig – Choreography: Sharon Eyal

A very stylish end to the evening, with a performance that never stopped – a perpetual motion of stylised poses and strutting walks, with a clear influence from vogueing and the modelling scene. The technical ability of the dancers was displayed to great effect in this piece – in particular, the fact that many of them maintained constant movement for minutes at a time, while walking only on their toes, was incredibly impressive.
A theme of contrast between turning outwards and inwards manifested in everything from expansive lunges and extensions, to the crossed legs and rolling shoulders of the catwalk. Another theme of the piece seemed to be an anonymity and almost dehumanisation – there was a blankness which reminded one of mannequins or robots rather than people. This was particularly powerful when the choreography utilised the large group to move together, marching towards or away from the audience.

There was also a strong contrast between the restless energy of the climactic moments – full of became almost lethargic. This play of fast and slow, and of extension and contraction, made for an exciting performance that used familiar movements and shapes from the worlds of ballet and modelling, intertwined and subverted into something both dark and creative…

Jess Ryan-Phillips

17th March 2019

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