A Very Mixed Bill
Emerge Festival 2015, Week One
7th November 2015
Emerge Festival is a platform for emerging choreographers and new works. The Festival runs for 3 weeks, with 5 different works each week. Week One showcased works by choreographers: Alyssandra Katherine Wu, Jono + Bexy Collective, Emily Ayers, Zoe Georgallis and Jodie Cole.
at The Space, 269 Westferry Road, London
Choreographer: Alyssandra Katherine Wu – Alyssandra Katherine Dance Project
Performers: Michael Ivan Kelland, Bridget Lappin, Andrew Macleman and Victoria Maria Winter
Traces uses paint in the space, on the floor and on the dancers to represent the remnants left behind from a significant person. The work opens with a male dancer spreading yellow paint on the floor, I am drawn to the sound of the paint spreading and seeing it change colour as it spreads thinner around him. Too soon the choreography moves into traditional contemporary movement, showcasing the dancers excellent strength and tricks, but losing the intention of the work.
Unfortunately, this continues throughout the piece...although the paint is used on stage, it is clear the movement has not been workshopped or developed with the use of the paint. The choreography is typical – lots of drops, lifts, reaches and leans (all executed well), but could have been taken from any standard Contemporary phrase. I think something great could be created with this idea, Wu just needs to question her work more, and ask herself 'why does this lift need to be here?' 'What does this duet/solo mean?' 'Would an audience member see my message here?'...and just play with the paint more.
Choreographer: jono + bexy collective
Performers: Rebecca Bassett-Graham and Jono Selvadurai
Bexy and Jono give a confusing description on the program, but present an incredibly clear, concise and crisp duet. They hold the space expertly as they stand in spotlight, staring at the audience, taking their time to look every person in the eyes. Sudden blackouts, dancers change position, new stance, this pattern repeats, the positions develop.
I noticed that my body is grew tense, due to the extreme muscle flexion and stretch occurring within the dancers, as they literally vibrated with locked energy. Despite the piece remaining relatively stationary, we were given dynamic changes through the use of breath to suddenly release a limb or a body to the floor.
Towards the end we were treated to an agonising contact duet; they were irresistibly drawn to each other, whilst appearing to be repelled or disgusted by the contact – it is a dichotomy that works well with their characters, simple black outfits and stark lighting choices. I look forward to seeing this work develop, however their music/sound score needs development, or more thought, to bring this work up another level.
The Demon Within
Choreographer: Dancayers Company – Emily Ayers
Performers: Imogen Lees, Katie Schoen, Emily Ayers and Georgia Rollings Swing: Natasha Hutt
The Demon Within was the epitome of non-original movement, and cliché choreography.
The music was simple pop, that was overly dramatic and uncomfortable to listen to. Ayers did use this well though, with lifts and pauses matching the melody pleasingly – she could add variety by choosing to contradict the music, or not following the lyrics too literally.
Ayers did not push herself to move away from typical choreographic techniques. The majority of the dance was in unison, with the only deviation being (a lot of) canon. The costumes were pretty, but unremarkable, except for the dancer representing the 'demon', who wore an ill-fitting, head-to-toe, black ensemble. Ultimately, it all felt like something I had seen before.
However, I could not fault the timing of the dancers, which was impeccable. Lees, Schoen, Ayers and Rollings are very technically proficient, and beautiful Jazz dancers, they just need further development in Contemporary choreography.
Choreographer and Performer: Zoe Georgallis
Film: James Williams (Moving Productions)
Music: Matt Gordon and Zoe Georgallis
Re-Pattern was the first work that matched it's Program description honestly and effectively; “Exploring rhythmic patterns in the human body...from the rhythm of the breath”. Georgallis presented this concept with a lot of thought and trust in her process.
Re-Pattern begins with a projection of Georgallis facing her real-life self on stage; they begin repeating a single phrase, in unison and opposition. Real-life Georgallis starts to speed up, we hear her breath informing her movement, and feel the dynamics begin to change. This play between the projection, breath, and real-life Georgallis continues throughout the work, and the evolution of the movement is never rushed, compromised and always seamless.
By leaving the structure relatively constant, I am drawn into the subtle shifts of weight placement, changes in movement initiation, direction and speed. I am given time to contemplate Georgallis' rhythm and alterations, as well as time to admire her ease on stage, precision and excellent balance between flow and sudden pauses. Georgallis is a captivating performer.
I am looking forward to seeing this dance develop into a longer work. I hope this will include Georgallis using more of the stage, greater audience interaction, as well as a stronger connection with the soundscape.
Re-Pattern held a hypnotic quality for me, and I heard the word 'satisfying' several times when discussing this piece afterwards – the perfect word to sum up my experience.
I am not in love
Choreographer and Performer: Jodie Cole
What a way to start a performance! Cole welcomes us to her world with a very realistic and loud orgasm centre stage. Then without a blink of the eye, turns to face the audience and matter-of-factly introduces herself. You cannot help but instantly like her.
Cole, 32, loves cycling, wearing party dresses and has no children. She does have a fantastic stage presence and great humor. She delights the audience with auto-biographical details, which are reflected in gestural movement phrases. Cole uses motif well, as we see her 'cycle' and 'hang upside down' throughout the work – reminding us of her story.
I appreciate Cole's ability to perform introspective phrasing, such as using her party dress to represent her aborted baby. I was actually emotionally affected by this, as the movement was stripped down to only what needed to be there – that which most effectively and simply expresses her narrative. Cole has confident eye contact with all of us, excellent use of breath and dynamics, as well as using her props so effectively I cannot imagine the work without them. I would happily watch this piece of brutal seduction again.