A Room for All Our Tomorrows
Choreographed by Igor Urzelai and Moreno Solinas
Igor and Moreno & the Place
Riley Theatre, Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Leeds
This dance/physical theatre piece by London-based duo Igor and Moreno is surprising, rewarding and gently confrontational; it resists neat categorisation or interpretation but provides visceral, surreal imagery that will live in the mind.
Pitched as a show "about all of us", this 55-minute duet passes through various movements, each with a distinct driving principle but tied together by a sense of experimentation and by the intimacy and complicity between the pair of performers.
It opens with one of them, Moreno Solinas, galloping onto the stage in a peach-coloured suit and embarking on a series of leaps, twists and bends. In itself it’s an energetic choreography, but this is made striking, odd, and more apparently effortful by the repeated shouts and yelps he expels while doing so.
Soon afterwards he is joined by Igor Urzelai, who enters into the choreography, mirroring and echoing his fellow dancer and similarly yelling. These cries seem at times mechanical, at others more melodic; like the dancers’ physicalities, they move in and out of phase with each other.
What struck me was how the performance really did become about all of us in the room: the development of the audience’s reactions weighed heavily in my engagement with the piece. There are no particular ‘shock’ moments or interactions between performers and spectators, and yet something was definitely happening between us.
At first, the audience reacted with somewhat nervous laughter and stifled giggles. Are we supposed to be finding this these odd, incongruous cries amusing? Soon, however, it becomes clear that humour is certainly part of Igor and Moreno’s repertoire and the nervy laughter turned to open enjoyment.
Later passages become more reflective, and twists and turns in the relationship between the pair provoke more reverent spectatorship and, at times, a return to nervousness.
The physicality of the piece, developed by Igor and Moreno along with Aoife McAtamney, seems partly derived from contact improvisation, though for much of the performance there is, in fact, very little contact. It is a choreography of near misses and skimming, of sinuous, snatched intertwining rather than prolonged holds and lifts. The moments that break this pattern are the most startling.
There is witty play with sound, both recorded and live; this is one of the noisiest dance pieces I’ve witnessed, given that most of this noise comes from the performers’ own vocal cords. The interweaving vocalisations of the two performers made me ponder how long they could keep it up—and then to wonder how strenuous it actually was compared to performing the movement without the accompanying sound. Not for nothing does this production name a voice coach (Melanie Pappenheim).
There’s also a dramaturg, Simon Ellis, who presumably assisted with the work of moulding what might be loosely thought of as the piece’s ‘narrative’, and developing strands through the performance. Together they have created a dance work which is confrontational without being in-your-face, and which shifts fluidly from idea to idea.
The whole performance plays with repetition, looping, and reversal while always driving forwards—if not to a conclusion, at least to a satisfying climax. It might shout to its audience, but at its core this piece is much more soothing, lingering, and tender.
Reviewer: Mark Love-Smith