Resolution! 2016, performances on January 16

Posted: January 24th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Performance | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Resolution! 2016, performances on January 16

Resolution! January 16: Jack Philp Company, Pirenaika Dance, Spoken Movement

Elly Braund and Nancy Nerantzi in Pinenaika Dance's Calle Leganitos (photo: Pierre Tappon)

Elly Braund and Nancy Nerantzi in Pinenaika Dance’s Calle Leganitos (photo: Pierre Tappon)

Jack Philp’s Psychoacoustic is a collaboration between neuroscience, sound and movement to ‘explore the body’s and brain’s response to sounds around us in light of particular emotions.’ Philp sets the context with a visual presentation of a mix of jarring sounds we might experience on a daily basis: pedestrians, traffic, construction, and social media. Gaia Cicolani stands immobile in front of the screen but her tensed hands and fingers prelude a growing muscular contraction throughout her body in response to the cacophonous input (audience brains are probably doing something similar but the seated bodies do not carry the movement through in the same way). By contrast, Linda Telek responds calmly to the more lyrical passages in Ben Corrigan’s acoustic environment but the reactions of both dancers fall within a narrow range of predictable gestures. It is only in their interaction with Clémentine Télesfort that the theme begins to develop as if they are reenacting the processes of the brain undergoing contrasting acoustic patterns. It is neuroscience, however, that has the leading role and the stage is rooted in the laboratory. Philp describes Psychoacoustic as ‘a culmination of the primary stages of an ongoing research project’, which translates as ‘the end of the beginning.’ In its further development Psychoacoustic might benefit from employing a less literal approach to movement and giving it less of a reactive role than an equal partnership in the collaboration.

Pirenaika Dance is Oihana Vesga Bujan, a dancer with Richard Alston Dance Company. Calle Leganitos, which Pirenaika Dance presented at Resolution!, is the first public sharing of Vesga Bujan’s choreography. Although she herself is an accomplished dancer, she has created her work on two other dancers in the company, Nancy Nerantzi and Elly Braund. The starting point is an odd one but with happy consequences: a Victor Borge performance of A Mozart Opera in which he characteristically reduces the cast and plot to a banal, farcical tale. Vesga Bujan sets off in the other direction with her two dancers to find ‘a relevant dance’ to an adagio, an allegro and a rondo for strings by Mozart. The dancers ‘will dive into the unknown…towards a place far from the glittery or the mundane…’ which is exactly what they do. Nerantzi and Braund are like spirited twins let loose on the rhythms and nuances of Mozart’s music that with Vesga Bujan’s help transport them to new levels of exhilaration. Even when Vesga Bujan plays with silence she keeps the musical line in motion with her innate musicality and lyrical sense of movement. What she adds to the dance is a lively gestural sense*; her gestures, drawn from daily life, amplify and qualify the dance in a way reminiscent of Jiří Kylián’s choreography. Like Kylián she finds through gesture new dynamic shapes, and the new shapes lead to new connections that form refreshingly new phrases and choreographic punctuation. For a first public work, Calle Leganitos is remarkably mature.

Kwame Asafo-Adjei’s Family Honour to a score of the same name by Simon Watts is a production of Spoken Movement, which is an apt description of the way Asafo-Adjei performs. His movement speaks with an intense physical articulation in the service of a narrative, the history of a father whose memory lies deep in regret and sadness. The work is full of symbolism to which Asafo-Adjei pays precise attention as if performing a ritual. He picks up a book from his desk and peremptorily tosses it out as if the written word has no place here. He talks about his mother as a ‘very, very, very wise woman’ but when he mentions his father he falls silent, looking away with a pain that has no words. He communes with his invisible mother, his source of strength, then fails once again to speak about his father. Instead his frenetic hands on the desk go through the actions of erasing, cutting, re-ordering and then with his whole body he digs out the traces of his memories on the floor in an extended, contorted solo, hammers them out with his muscled arms and shoulders until he sits once again at the desk, exhausted and exorcised. He lays his body on the desk and breathes a final, muffled incantation for his ears alone. Asafo-Adjei is a compelling performer, but what makes Family Honour disquieting is the inseparability of this life story from its theatrical expression.

* According to Laurence Louppe (in her Poétique de la danse contemporaine), a gesture is the visible emanation of an invisible physical source that nevertheless conveys the intensity of the entire body (‘Le geste est avant tout l’émanation visible d’une genèse corporelle invisible, mais porteuse de toute l’intensité du corps global.’)