Humanhood - Julia Robert, Rudi Cole
Infinite is the new work by Julia Robert and Rudi Cole, who lead Humanhood, a dance company fusing 'Modern Physics and Ancient Mysticism in the Human Body'. It was performed at Northern Stage in a welcome new partnership with Dance City, the region's dance development agency. This partnership will allow even more large-scale dance work to be brought to Newcastle audiences.
Humanhood formed "to challenge human consciousness, to transcend culture, to inspire connection through movement, working with scientists and artists to create strongly movement based performances." Infinite demonstrates their flowing, organic and powerful style well and is an ensemble piece with eight strong and expressive dancers, including Cole, all of whom are on stage almost the entire time during this one-hour, no interval performance.
The piece is made up of sections, that shift seamlessly from one to the other, as an overarching theme of interconnectedness to each other, the world and the universe; movement is almost continuous with burst of energy and moments of unison that are never forced. The dancers start lined up downstage in stillness and gradually build to movement. The group sections are interspersed with a solo with a poi-like emblem and a joyous central shamanistic section with a song Votiv by Dorisburg.
The work is darkly and atmospherically lit by Tom Visser, often with a lot of mist and is as well planned as the choreography. Occasionally, it is too dark for us to see what is happening and the evocative detail of the dance is lost. However the use of hand globes of light in the end section is captivating. The non-gendered (unisex) dark costumes are effective and allow freedom of movement.
Music, composed by Iain Armstrong, had an initial pulsing, industrial feel and then developed into a spacious and varied style, with one section full of fascinating rhythm, all well suited to the theme. The song, Votiv, and further text by Deya Dova and Robert was integrated into the music score and hovered close to New World, Yogic and shamanistic philosophy.
Best, I thought, was the central Votiv section with the entire ensemble in a bouncing, joyous dance mostly facing the audience and with their flesh tinged with rose light whilst the rest of the stage was almost in darkness. The female dancers then emerged one by one in brief solos before passing on the movement to another woman and returning to the group.
The rigour, beauty, skill and the message of Infinite are impressive; it is a journey through time and space and a meditation, and also an offer to to think about the world a little differently and to breath! Infinite is inventive, well researched, really well danced with fine production values.
The evening ended with a Q and A led by Anand Bhatt, Artistic Director and CEO of Dance City.
Reviewer: Dora Frankel