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Turn 2016: Night 1 – Contact, Manchester

Reviewer: Peter Jacobs

Turn – presented by Word of Warning, Contact and Dance Manchester – is the eighth annual micro festival of new north west dance, celebrating five years at Contact in 2016. Performed across two evenings, Turn presents a diverse range of new work and work in progress from north west-based dance makers and artists. As Manchester is rich in such individuals but short of established companies, dedicated dance spaces and opportunities to show work, this is a significant event in the annual calendar for audiences and creatives.

Friday evening, the first of two, sees no fewer than eight pieces of work and two video-based installations across four spaces, so is a challenge of organisation and audience endurance, but a pleasurable one; and the team from the venue and Word of Warning make a neat job of keeping things moving and synchronised.

Some of the pieces are shown twice due to the space capacities of Contact’s Spaces 2 and 3 so this review reflects the order they were seen by this reviewer.

Going Places by Jo Ashbridge is a work-in-progress staged solo in collaboration with filmmakers Katie Sunlay and Jay Moy. This is a whimsical take on ‘mind wandering’ and the disconnection between thought and place. Although the relationship between film and performance is well-considered, the film content overwhelms Ashbridge, as her movement and actions somehow fail to match the interestingness of the clever and witty footage. It’s a good-looking piece on the stage but the performer is somehow incidental rather than the focus.

Inner Terra by Bridget Fiske + Co with Joseph Lau, is a duet on heavily-researched themes of migration, crisis and outsiderness. Intended for sited performances, this work in progress is simply staged with original music by Miguel Marin in Space 3. Inner Terra is already a satisfying piece of work. Intelligent, emotional and with some powerfully strong and distinctive choreography, the wonderfully light intensity of the connection between Fiske and Lau is compelling, and Fiske especially moves so wonderfully that the pair are engrossing to watch. A thought-provoking piece full of subtle imagery that sends your mind off on a consideration of the themes at play.

Back to Space 1 for To Suit by Lizzie J Klotz, which explores the relationship between a man and a woman, considering human communication and animal courtship rituals, especially birds. This is performed by Alys North and Charlie Dearnley, who are a delight, and this piece is neatly-constructed, fun, inventive, and driven by some nicely-original music choices.

This is followed swiftly by This Is What We Left Behind by Lauren Tucker, a highly-personal consideration of the legacy of her great-grandmother, focusing on home movies from 1964. This is a work in progress and an extract, and there are elements, especially within the performance, that don’t fully gel at this stage, but the well-constructed sense of nostalgia and time and place and the deeply-heartfelt and genuine nature of the work made it ultimately rather charming and moving.

After a short interval, Blind Certainty by Giorgio de Carolis, a former member of Motionhouse and other professional companies, one of the more experienced performers showing. This is a beautiful, considered piece of work – wonderfully lit, great music – full of finely-detailed movement by a highly-watchable dancer with tremendous control and poise: very classy.

Finally in Space 1, Long and Short of It by Tom Bowes Dance. This is an appealing duet by Bowes and Jenny Reeves, with some lovely moments of connection and fracture and delight. Again, a light connection between the likeable performers radiates from the stage joyfully, and the well-designed lighting and clever soundtrack by Sigur Ros drive the piece to a high level. It looks as if it still needs the transitions refining but is still an atmospheric and memorable piece of work.

Lastly, in Space 2, Mirror N You’re On! by Gayathri Ganapathy, a short piece of classical Indian-inspired dance, which is charmingly performed and emboldened with good use of film and lashings of haze. Then, in its second showing but the last piece of the evening as journeyed here, Yes Sir Act by Holly Rush. This is an exploration of movement with literature, and is an unexpected duet by Holly Rush and actor/writer Hamish Rush, who delivers a remarkably-realised and vivid performance, which at first threatens to sideline the movement; but as he steps into the darkness for the middle section and Holly Rush moves to (not quite) the centre, it is clear that this a dancer with a subtly commanding presence and great control, precision and imagination. In the final act Hamish returns and verbally unravels the mayhem of the first part, although no less intensely, and what seems like an oddity at the start ends up completing the evening on a dynamic, if surreal, high.

Turn returns for part two on Saturday evening with a completely new programme of new dance. Winning so far.

Runs until 23 April 2016 |

Reviewer: Peter Jacobs Turn - presented by Word of Warning, Contact and Dance Manchester - is the eighth annual micro festival of new north west dance, celebrating five years at Contact in 2016. Performed across two evenings, Turn presents a diverse range of new work and work in progress from north west-based dance makers and artists. As Manchester is rich in such individuals but short of established companies, dedicated dance spaces and opportunities to show work, this is a significant event in the annual calendar for audiences and creatives. Friday evening, the first of two, sees no fewer than eight…

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