Resolution! Jan 14, 2012 – A year ago today

If you think these Resolution! reviews came rather quick, you read my a-year-ago-today rookie mind! I was the first Resolution! writer to complete two reviews, and spent the 3 days in between endlessly re-reading my first, thinking about that first show and dreaming up new, illustrative words and phrases.

This triple bill was one of those rare, inspired ones when the review began to take shape (in the form of low-decibel mumbles – imagine a cross between speech and thought bubbles) on the tube home.

I present: my review from Resolution! 14 January, 2012

Jemma Bicknell   Please Not Mine

Thom Rackett Company   You Just Live

Joss Arnott Dance  24 

For an ode to one of Britain’s fashion icons, Alexander McQueen, Joss Arnott’s 24 is unimaginatively costumed.  The ensemble of six female dancers clad in beige vest tops and shorts impress with their articulate undulations and balletic hyperextension. Their explosive attack of the material is commendable, though I feared for their knees each time they fell to the floor. Marrying the extremes of his dancers’ bodily range of movement with the extreme volume of James Keane’s rhythmic soundtrack, one cannot help but think of Arnott as the dance equivalent of Wayne McGregor and Hofesh Shechter’s lovechild.

News reports, each more alarming than the last, tragically punctuated London last summer. Please Not Mine is the heartfelt cry of a woman witnessing the utter bedlam in the capital city, valiantly maintaining a shred of hope amidst her intensifying fear. The lithe Katie Armstrong is adept at portraying the weighty severity of her role, her every movement charged with deep melancholy. Her fears are realized as the man she has been waiting for comes through the door. He is a picture of remorse, having fallen prey to the herd mentality of the rioters. Their ensuing duet encompasses a plethora of emotion, ranging from disbelief to forgiveness, culminating in a compelling embrace.

Sam Way’s memorable monologue is the nucleus of Thom Rackett’s You Just Live. A young man is caught in a world where the herd mentality once again prevails. Three uninhibited dancers shimmy and shake to the melodious strains of Joan Sutherland’s Casta Diva. They gradually close in on him, forming imposing silhouettes against his seemingly diminutive frame and in turn, his diminishing individuality. The protagonist eventually manages to overcome this pressure to assert his unique identity. Undeterred in his thoughtful recitation of Way’s text despite having newspapers and flowers stuffed in his shirt and placed atop his head, he repeatedly poses the question: How do we best live? Well, we simply just.

Published on Resolution! Review alongside Sanjoy Roy (@SANJ0YR0Y).

I admit it a dismissive and over-general verdict to pass (convict me if you will), but it seems that Wayne McGregor and Hofesh Shechter are the go-to models of inspiration for aspiring choreographers today (as evidenced in Donald Hutera’s review of one edition of Resolution! 2013, and further afield). Their movement styles and works are worlds apart – the former: leggy, angular and cold and the latter: loud, loping, urgent (which I named “Shechter-ology” in this review)- yet equally distinctive.

But when does having a “trademark style” stop and being a “one trick pony” start?

I remember my first live McGregor and Shechter. Subsequent viewings of their work elicited above all, a huge admiration for the dancers – their immense physicality, stamina and technical prowess. But what captivated me before quickly dissolved in the familiarity of look, vocabulary and mood.

There have been exceptions. Shechter turned the volume down in Violet Kid (Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet) and without the overpowering bass driving the work, the work relented, gave and showed its softer side. McGregor’s large-scale Big Dance 2012 staged in London’s Trafalgar Square saw the lanky choreographer work with a myriad of dance groups, creating a mammoth 40-minute piece interspersed with sections by his own company, Random Dance. These sections though recognisably in McGregor’s hypermobile style, were gentler, more expansive, and more exciting.


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