Phoenix Dance Theatre
Grand Theatre, Blackpool
Four new pieces, with a couple of instant crowdpleasers amongst them, added up to a night of generally thrilling contemporary dance from one of the country’s consistently entertaining companies.
Leeds-based Phoenix Dance parcels it all up as Particle Velocity and in keeping with that description it is designed to make waves.
The evening opens with All Alight, created for Phoenix by top UK choreographer Richard Alston. It is an instantly-accessible and deceptively-simple looking suite of dances set to the taut strings of Ravel’s Sonata for Violin and Concerto. Seven dancers perform to music that verges between the skittish and the sonorous.
Ki, in complete contrast, is a 10-minute solo dance of extreme poise and control performed here by Josh Wille. His gymnastic background is abundantly evident in Jose Agudo’s choreography, wrapped around the legend of Genghis Khan. Performed to a mounting drum beat it becomes almost hallucinatory in its portrayal of a body under external forces.
Indeed, at its close, it could almost be the Best of Bez from those Happy Mondays of Madchester!
Borrowing from the American cinema sound and style of Quentin Tarantino, or American Beauty, Tender Crazy Love is another intensely-emotional experience. Sandrine Monin and Phil Sanger become a couple of contemporary lovers whose apparent need for reconciliation spirals into brutal aggression. It is tough, dynamic and sometimes uncomfortable to watch. But you’re unlikely to ever forget it.
Which probably won’t be the case with the final offering, Repetition of Change.
Phoenix artistic director Sharon Watson has constructed it around the genetic coding of DNA. In the company of the other dances it looks, feels and sounds around 50 years behind the times.
Despite a stage-wide white frock—that might not have looked out of place in a Eurovision song contest—it gets hung up, literally, on that particular prop and never really recovers any shape or form.
Eight androgynous dancers suggest you really must not mess with genetics.
Reviewer: David Upton