Choreographer/Company : Kristen McNally – Dont hate the Player Hate the Game, Ross Cooper – This is Winter, James Cousins – Taste Water again, Gerrard Martin – D-Ilusion, Jenni Wren/Slanjayvah Danza- Lunar-tic, James Finnemore – Patriot and Anthony Lo-Guidice/Exquisite Corpse/Dance Theatre – ValhÖll.
Reviewer: Toni Stott-Rates
The Public Reviews Rating:
Firefly is Cloud Dance Festival’s 12th outing produced to provide a platform and creative space for contemporary dance/ballet choreographers and dancers based in London, it also aims to make Contemp. Dance and ballet more accessible to non-dance audiences, and Saturday night’s line up didn’t disappoint, offering up some beautiful and intriguing pieces.
James Cousins brings us an emotional exploration in Taste Water again, the movement is haunting in its reaching for something perhaps just beyond the dancers reach and also in its urgency, you get the feeling that as much as the group moves like an organism, a type of hive mind, it is also fighting for this cohesiveness as much as the soloist if fighting to find her place both in it and outside it.
My biggest problem with dance as it goes is the propensity for the dancers to look like puppets, and more often than not beautiful choreography can be made redundant if the dancer is just a blank canvas, if there is no emotional investment in the body text. ValhÖll and This is Winter suffer most from this. Anthony Lo-Guidice’s choreography in ValhÖll, for example was stunningly evocative of violence, battle and the dirty savage plains of Africa’s animal kingdom, but the dancers were not rooted in their movements, they felt hesitant, movement which should have been grounded was performed on toes. The dancers seemed curiously blank giving the warriors no real viciousness or oomph, thus the fight between the two men towards the end felt more like a schoolyard barney than a dangerous warrior-like battle.
James Finnemore’s Patriot, and Jenni Wrens Luner-tic had committed and intense performances, journeying into their respective subjects with interesting choices and I look forward to seeing how these pieces might progress and develop in the future.
Gerrard Martins D-Illusion may have been my favourite piece of the night. Very theatrical and beautifully conceived; it is a look at a woman’s image of herself in the mirror and how it has been twisted and distorted by media sensibilities from the real vision to something she can see only negatively. The two dancers move together in a beautiful partnership and with such purpose in investigating their shared bodies that we almost ask who is the person and who is the twisted image.
Festival headliner Kristen McNally’s enjoyable Don’t hate the player, Hate the game, was a worthy close to the night and hip hop dancer Tommy Franzen a very engaging performer. McNally is known for her use of pop culture music and references mixed with some exciting choreography to create fresh cutting edge pieces. In this she successfully merges various dance styles from breaking to contemporary ballet movement which is effectively explored and performed by b-boy Franzen. What makes this piece stand out for me was how palpably the dancer enjoyed dancing it, it was sexy and dangerous, humorous and fun, dancer and movement interacting with the music and lighting, bringing to mind James Bond, Cowboys, and suave and dapper gentleman partners at formal dances.
From the number of participants, some 122 companies have participated in this festival since its inception, it is clear that this is a much needed space for emerging artists to create, experiment and develop their work, but as an unfunded festival it is clear from Chantal Guevara’s forward in the festival programme that its future is uncertain – as with so much of the arts – let us hope that they are able to find a theatre home or some funding to continue their fantastic work.
Photo: David ClerihewCloud Dance Festival: Firefly - Pleasance Theatre, London,
Tags: Anthony Lo-Guidice, Chantal Guevara, Cloud Dance Festival, D-Ilusion, Dance Theatre, Don’t hate the Player Hate the Game, Exquisite Corpse, Firefly, Gerrard Martin, James Cousins, James Finnemore, Jenni Wren, Kristen McNally, Lunar-tic, Patriot, Pleasance Theatre, Ross Cooper, Slanjayvah Danza, Taste Water again, This is Winter, Tommy Franzen, ValhÖll.