Dance City, Newcastle
Public Announcement is Dance City's North East Dance Platform, an opportunity for the public to see work that is being developed in the region, although in this case it also included work from Edinburgh, Manchester and Leeds as part of Dance Citys "ongoing commitment to working with Northern based artists." There were eight pieces in the programme, four from the NE and four from elsewhere, and all were either complete in themselves or, except for one which was a work in progress, completed pieces of works of which parts are still in development.
The evening opened with an untitled "working duet in progress" from balletLORENT, choreographed by Liv Lorent and danced by Gavin Coward and Philippa White. This piece signals a return to Lorent's signature eroticism, a highly charged encounter between a man and a woman, much more reminscent of, for example, La Nuit Intime than her more recent work.
It would be unfair to make any judgements on the basis of this alone: as a work in progress it could change significantly with further development and if also, as one presumes, it is to be part of a larger piece, even if it doesn't change, it will seem different in the context of the rest. It does seem, homever, to be something of a retreat from the lyricism of Designer Body towards the more sexually explicit.
Andrea Masala's Deep Skin which followed, danced by the choreographer, asks the question of "how comfortable as human beings we are within our own skin, what it represents and the social significance of skin within society." Masala's answer seem to be that we are not very comfortable at all: this is a troubled, edgy piece which successfully portrays the emotional - or even the metaphysical - in the physical.
Joseph Lau's character study from a larger work, Abandoned Things - a Static Change Project, danced by Katherine Hollinson, is based, he tells us, on The Weeping Woman (which I take to be the Picasso painting of that name) but it lacks the corrosive painfulness of the original. There is sadness, even sorrow there, certainly, but the sharpness, the angularity and the depths of pain are missing. We respond with some sympathy to the dancer but the dance lacks the punch of the painting.
Adam Park's Gray Tears, which he dances, is isnpired by music and the feeling of trying to force a memory out.
The first half concluded with Jackin' the Box from iDance, choreographed by Ashley Jack and the dancers. It beings with a man-sized MP3 player/ iPod being brought on stage and the selection, by various dancers at various times, of its stored tunes changes the dance and, at times, even the costumes, and these chages are reflected in the attitudes of the dancers. A wide range of disco and house styles are evoked by the changes and the audience and I found it funny and entertaining. However I - but the audience as a whole did not seem to agree with me - felt it went on too long. Like many a piece (theatrical or dance) devised by "the company", it became rather self-indulgent and would have benefited from stricter directorial control. But it certainly ended the first half on a high note.
Bagofti by Gary Clarke in collaboration with Gavin Coward and danced by Coward is inspired by the life and work of Francis Bacon. Using the simple device of stocking masks to distort the features to give them a Bacon-esque grotesqueness, Clarke and Coward give us a tour of the tortured world of Bacon but, again, the impact is weakened by there being too much. With tightening up and the loss of perhaps five or so minutes, this could be a very powerful piece indeed.
Anthony Lo-Giudice gave us Hostile Forces, danced by himself and four others. Our relationship with the "malevolence of the animal world" and our desire for love form the basis of the piece. A major feature is the use of some very powerful fluorescent tubes which are manipulated by the dancers, sometime backlighting the dancers, sometimes lighting them from the side or the front. Hard on the audience's eyes at some points, this gives us a series of different perspectives, much more effectively than the use of video projection in the latter part of the piece.The danger of using huge video projection is always that it will distract, attract attention away from the dancers, and so it proved here.
The final piece of the evening was Bad Taste Cru's Aftermath. If there are still doubts (and there shouldn't be) about the place of breakdance in dance as art form rather than, as it is sometimes seen, pure acrobatics, then Aftermath must surely fling them aside. This piece, inspired by their growing up in Omagh during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, is deeply moving and intensely powerful. A perfect ending to an interesting and sometimes exciting evening of dance.
Reviewer: Peter Lathan