A Brief Encounter With . Two's A Company

Dance Umbrella
Purcell Room, Southbank Centre
(2008)

Production photo from One

This bill of two very different dance duets presents the work of two London companies: Impact Dance, self-styled Hip-Hop Theatre Company/Street Dance Organisation, founded in 1995, and the much younger C-12 Dance Theatre, founded by three Middlesex University graduates in 2005.

Impact's Circular Disorientation is danced to a soundtrack that includes the voice of DJ Pogo with a music mix produced by Dan Gate that includes a scratchy needle, but it is not exactly what you might be used to in the hip-hop/street dance genre: there are no frantically jerking hoodies here. As Pogo tells you, hip-hip isn't rap and it's not a dance style, it's an attitude. The music here is much more relaxed and the dance, while incorporating some body-popping and street-dance groundwork, is far from robotic, using these elements to form a very watchable piece of modern dance. Much of the time, though probably invisible to the lower rows of the audience at this venue, an image of the DJ's deck is projected onto the stage cloth. For some sections, especially those when the dancers appear to be dancing over the revolving discs, a pre-recorded image of them seen from above appears on the screen behind them giving us simultaneous views of Hakeem Onibudo's choreography live from the front and looking vertically down, which produces intriguing relationships that emphasise the link between DJ and dancers Leroy Dias Dos Santos and Nathan Holliday.

For C-12's One the stage is filled with smoke through which beams of light cut planes that trap the performers in changing spaces in Mikkel Svak's exciting lighting design. It is a much darker piece that could be taken symbolically or as a direct relationship between the two performers. Adam Towndrow originally choreographed it for a man and a woman, but it has also been performed by two women and on this occasion was being presented with two men, Nasae Evanson and Tony Adigun, which gave it a perspective which made it difficult to imagine it done with the other pairings. One dancer enters carrying the body of the other across his shoulders and then drops it to the ground, a wrestling-like struggle ensues with the two bodies sometimes joined in tension and much skilful throwing of one onto or against the other, or balanced over it. This could be actual conflict, a visualisation of intellectual argument or one person trying to deal with his own demons. Then, with one body lying, wounded or dying, on the ground, there is an elegiac sequence imbued with feeling of love or even mourning which makes it become very much about a human relationship. It has a gorgeous score with a rich vocal line composed by Jocelyn Pook (arranged by Kweku Aacht) and presents some dazzling images. I found it very moving but against the brightness of the enclosing layers of light I would have liked a little more illumination of the dancers; dark skins soak up light and, though I appreciate the dramatic effect, their work in this interesting choreography deserves to be seen more clearly.

Until 5th October 2008

Reviewer: Howard Loxton