Life After Life / The Heart of Him
Choreography by Apple Yang
Appetite Dance Productions
Dance City, Newcastle
Choreographer Apple Yang is Chinese born and North East based. She describes her work as contemporary dance with imagery and influences drawn from a fusion of East and Western cultures. The performances of Life After Life and The Heart of Him were presented by Dance City as part of the celebrations of the Chinese New Year.
I have to confess to ignorance of Chinese dance - most of what I think I know is, in any case, probably bastardised by Hollywood! - so I am unable to comment on Chinese influences on her choreographic style and language, and frankly that's probably a good thing because it means I came to these two pieces without preconceptions.
What is clear, however, is the fusion between East and West in what is, for want of a better phrase, the wider cultural background to both pieces. There is something very Chinese in the way in which Yang sees life: "In every life," she says, "there are many lives, like Chinese boxes that nest inside each other."
Both pieces have this idea at their very hearts. In Life After Life we see the multitudinous aspects of one life, reminiscent, perhaps, of Shakespeare's "One man in his life plays many parts" but with a much wider focus, whilst in The Heart of Him we see the same multiplicity but through contact with - almost through the eyes of - others. There are moments of joy, of sadness, of anger, and indeed of the whole range of emotions, but there is a sense of incompleteness. Going back to Shakespeare, all of this "sound and fury" signifying what? Not nothing but missing something. Towards the end of Life After Life a singer sings of peace. Perhaps this is what is missing?
The company of four - Anthony Lo-Giudice, Molly Hodkinson, Michael Barnes and Malvina Tam Mei-Wah - handle the constantly changing dynamic well and they - and Apple Yang - well deserved the enthusiastic reception they received on the opening night.
"Life After Life / The heart of Him" tours to Darlington Arts Centre on 10th February
Reviewer: Peter Lathan