Reviewer: Caroline Schreiber
The Public Reviews Rating:
The first half opens with Harry Alexander hanging on a wire, being brought down from above still and expressionless, characterising the company’s performance in the first half. Accompanied by an enchanting and easy listening score by Scritti Politti, eight dancers in simple black costumes perform a choreography comprising of basic ballet moves recognisable to all. With no set and a backdrop switching through a palette of warm colours, the audience’s attention is solely on the dancers. The simplicity of both the choreography and the stripped-down staging promises a spectacle of exceptional dance and control which doesn’t always deliver. Saying that, this understated, almost neutral work – across facial expressions, costume, staging and choreography – is easy to watch and lasts a sufficient 25 minutes.
In the second half, the mood changes: the cast appears in a fluid choreography dressed in red dip-dyed leotards, accompanied by Pulp’s ‘F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E.’. In almost an alien-like manner, they come in and out of the (still) understated stage in varying formations really showcasing some lovely choreography with the physical control explored in the first half of the show. There is a definite climax building up with accelerating music, pace and backdrop projections as words slide in all directions, backwards, forward and upside down. The audience’s attention is suddenly diverted to deciphering the projection, giving the dancers time to disappear and change costumes. The words ‘What?’ ‘Who?’, ‘Why Me?’ and ‘I’m thinking about starting a zoo’ can be read. The buildup seems to lead to the unveiling of Jarvis Crocker and his Relaxed Muscle musicians dressed in what resembles Mexican Day of the Dead costumes as the backdrop lifts and turns the rest of the show into a strange rock-meets-dance gig.
The zoo reference is then echoed by the black and white costumes and highly-charged animal instinct choreography. At this point, the dancers really seem to be enjoying themselves and there is an element of play and fun in their performance. The mixture of a much more elaborate lighting design by Charles Atlas, mirrored stools as props and energetic rock music and performance by Jarvis Crocker invites the audience to shift to the edge of their seats and bop their heads along with the rhythm. But the novelty wears off slightly and Jarvis’s performance at times feels uncomfortably misplaced, particularly when he walks down to the front row of a now very static audience. His performance at times upstages the dancers and the anticipated climax is dubitable.
Exceptional dancing from the whole cast, particularly from Julie Cunningham, has to be noted as well as two light-hearted cameos from Michael Clark himself, clearly giving the starstruck audience butterflies.
Overall this finale is a good piece which resonates with the usual Clarkian strong relationship between choreography and pop music. It works as a whole, leaving the audience energised and jolly but arguably fails to really cohere between pieces and fails to climax to an explosive end as it feels it should.