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Turn 2013 – Contact, Manchester

Co-produced by hÅb, Contact, Dance initiative Greater Manchester + Live at LICA

Reviewer: Peter Jacobs


Turn 2013 - Contact“Explosive, intimate, graceful and challenging — a two night micro-festival of emerging north west danceworks.” The Turn Festival is one of the key events in Manchester’s dance calendar. Originally presented for several years at the much-lamented greenroom, this is Turn’s second year at its new home, Contact Theatre. The outcome of this micro-festival will be the winning of the Turn Prize, a cash award to develop the winning work further and the prestige of recognition in a north-west dance scene that is big on activity and creativity but strangely still relatively low on visibility. For 2013, Turn returns with 15 new works presented across two nights.

Before we hit the main performance space, hop, skip, jump dance collective perform a series of mildy distracting and playful interventions #haveyouseenmykeys? in the foyer and bar areas before and after the show and in the interval. There is also the opportunity, three at a time, to book a 5-minute show in an intimate space. This runs throughout the evening and also tomorrow. It’s called The Body (extract) and is created and performed by Rebekka Platt. Details would spoil it so suffice to say it’s worth taking the chance, especially if you like being slightly unsettled.

So, to the main space… S.O.S. (work in progress) by Jo Ashbridge, performed by Ashbridge, Rachel Baldwin and Vicky Singleton, is an exploration of perceptions of self and is at turns whimsical, humorous and playful. It seems to especially focus on girls’ relationships with each other, with a darker undercurrent running beneath the whimsy. It’s characterful and still has some way to go with establishing its own identity and story arc. It will be interesting to see how it develops. You Might Not See Me For Who I Am is a dramatically-lit solo by Adam John Roberts that also explores ideas of identity, but in a rather more urgent and questioning sense. This is a fairly innovative and courageous work that makes full use of the space and pulls together bold movement with some faster and more detailed investigations. Jessica Butler’s Your Rights is inspired by Terry Pratchett’s documentary on euthanasia and explores ideas of physical pain, dignity and personal rights through music and movement that is often lyrical and strangely lovely, even when depicting pain and personal suffering; it’s actually a rather beautiful piece performed with appealing intensity and commitment.

Oblique Strategists (Sarah Spies and Manny Emslie) performed In The Loop in Contact’s other space during the interval and again after the main show. Their name gives away their approach to performance. In The Loop is an exploration of the similarities and differences between the two performers. Heavy with dialogue and moments of inertia, it’s a playfully intellectual approach to physical performance that owes much to the likeability and charisma of these two women. It’s a game designed to amuse and frustrate but it’s reasonably effective.

Back in the main space Ian and Jane presented Everything Beautiful Is Stolen, a piece about labels and identity (again). Ian and Jane are physically courageous performers in a piece that is characterised by intense self-examination and strong physical contact – often with the floor. It builds nicely to a very satisfying central section before decaying to a desperate, pained conclusion. It’s good work that has grown massively since it was shown as a work in progress at Platform 0.1 last year. Finally, Daniela B Larsen and Robert Guy performed an impressive duo This House Smells of Ghosts. Following the course of a relationship from early joy through passion to violence, this is a visceral, thrilling piece of dance performed with huge personality and technical skill, packed with precision timing, intense personal connection and physical fearlessness. A great piece to end this first evening.

It is worth adding that the lighting team at Contact did a superb job, giving five disparate pieces of work distinctive and effective lighting plans. Turn 2013 continues tomorrow with seven more pieces of new work plus another chance to see The Body, all finished off with Contact Theatre’s Sound Moves Mixed Movement Jam. Don’t miss your Turn.

Reviewed 19th April 2013

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One comment

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    Thank you for your kind comments with regards to the lighting! Its rare we get a mention. All the lighting was designed in collaboration with the performers and our in house lighting team. Lee Grey/Alex Willy Space 1 performances, and Steve Curtis in space 2. It was a pleasure to work on the festival and looking forward to seeing the pieces develop. Heres to Turn 2014.

    Lee Grey (lighting Technician Contact)