Director: Holly Noble & Jane Coulston
Reviewer: Despina Mavrou
The Public Reviews Rating:
We Face Forward was the official launch of the Female Choreographers’ Collective. Their mission statement, included in the programme notes, is that they “endeavour to promote, support and build the profile of female choreographers in the UK. Thought provoking debate and facilitating discussion across the perceived gender lines, we aim to unite not segregate all choreographers, regardless of gender, in the pursuit of equal representation in the arts”.
The debate and discussion was notably absent from the entirety of the evening as each piece was introduced only by the house lights fading into blackout.
WatkinsDance opened the evening with Inseparable, a male-female duet about a relationship. Given the oversaturation of the dance world with duets on this theme, a fresh and different approach was needed but sadly was completely absent. The clearly well-trained dancers performed the playful movement with skill and the partnerwork was particularly strong. However there were no clear emotions displayed. The duet expressed the superficiality of a teen fling rather than the soulmate relationship promised by the programme notes.
Beyond Repair Dance’s Seven opened with the seven highly athletic dancers performing repetitive floorwork movement reminiscent of a hardcore Graham class. When they took to an upright position, the feel of the movement shifted to a combination of Cunningham and Jazz with some exhilarating falls, jumps and turns executed with precision. At no point, however, was it made clear exactly how “the potentially restrictive nature of superstition” was looked at, despite the explicitly religious surroundings and backdrop of St Paul’s Church providing an ideal setting. The costumes were even more baffling, as the women wore bras and leggings while the men wore t- shirts and shortened tracksuit bottoms.
The theme of womanhood, and the issues surrounding the experience of women in society was thankfully introduced by Diciembre Dance Group’s Yerma’s Nights. The live music accompaniment helped accentuate the movement of a lone woman, Sara Accettura, as she portrayed the journey from adolescence and playfulness to motherhood, adulthood and ageing. The choreography was clear and interesting and the dance was performed well, but the intention behind each movement was not always there. This was a new piece for DDG, and felt like it needed more rehearsal time to reach its peak.
Holly Noble’s Possession, performed by AD Dance Company, closed the evening with another male-female duet about a relationship. It fared better than Inseparable in its intensity of emotions and a clear progression from gentle, loving movement to an expression of the need to dominate. The dancers’ similar build helped show an even but twisted relationship, but it fell short of reaching an explosive end as it needed to.