by Tia Asterope
This year’s 4th Ignition Dance Festival was a victorious showcase of highly varied and charismatic choreography.
A collaboration between DanceWest and the Royal Borough of Kingston, the Festival showcased 8 choreographers who created 7 short works exploring a variety of ideas and themes through dance:
Tim Casson’s playful They Dance is the perfect beginning for a contemporary dance festival. He and Chloe Mead tilt, spiral and hit their foreheads with their hands ‘like they did a terrible mistake’, as professional audio describer Alice Sanders explains. Casson and his friends use wry humour to engage us with the issues that can arise when dance is translated into words and vice versa. As a solidly joyful perception on how difficult – if not impossible – it is to dance what you say and say what you dance, They Dance prompts the thought that maybe we don’t have to explain everything we see onstage but instead just surrender to it.
Unbearable Intolerance Of Being
The kathak-trained choreographer Urja Desai Thakore delves into the Unbearable Intolerance Of Being, performing along with Parbati Chaudhry, Shyam Dattani and Sonia Chanderia-Tilu. The intense encounters between this dynamic quartet drag the fragile threads of human relationships to the edge. Thakore in particular captivated me with a magnetic solo stretching invisible intolerance to a breaking point between her hands. In the end, the cast unites as a human nucleus bonded by both patterns of commonality and difference. At the very end, we could hear a tentative rhythm flowing out of their voices as they exited, possibly lost in a pitch-black darkness.
Dane Hurst collaborated with the composer Anna Appleby to create the trio Citizens. The lyrical pyrotechnics of Appleby’s sound score cum opera Citizens of Nowhere embraces every moment of this tautly and expressively choreographed piece which abounds with sometimes emphatic yet often conflicted partnerships. Ryan Taylor, Zunnur Sazali and Eleanor Stephenson thrilled me with their skilful performances, striving for identity, belonging and fellowship but all too often blocking each other’s attempts to achieve this. With admirably ethereal artistry they teetered between drama and romance, suffocation and freedom.
The Tainted Hero
In The Tainted Hero Maria Yacoob dives into Greek mythology, and specifically the tasks of Heracles, in a fresh and invigorating manner. Paaliba Abugre’s electric virtuosity in the title role is more than effective. With twirls, judders and sky-high jumps, he tries to capture the tortured psyche of an epic hero. Videography and choreography blend as we see Heracles run for his life, climb mountains, swim deep and do battle with the obstacles placed in his way by the cruel and bored goddess Hera (Celia Francis) who nevertheless enjoys herself making Heracles’ path as hard as she can. His misadventures unfold in a seductive theatrical atmosphere.
Queen Have & Miss Haven’t
In Queen Have & Miss Haven’t Eleanor Perry & Daniel Hay-Gordon, aka Thick & Tight, frame in a ridiculously funny way the roles of Queen Victoria and Miss Haversham. These two iconic figures share an extravagant and immoderate yearning for love. Garishly made up to look like their particular personas and both wearing hoop skirts (black and white respectively), Perry and Hay-Gordon employ detailed and hilarious movement to radiate horror and tenderness at the same time. Their sharp-gestured choreography is perfectly paired with Messiaen’s glorious score. Radical, sensitive and surely ahead of its time.
The Middle Way
After several years’ hiatus Henri Oguike is back on the dance scene with The Middle Way. Aurore Vigneron, Caitlin Taylor, Isabel Alvarez and Oliver Chapman are the moving pawns within his choreographic game, yet as it unspools they each win a life of their own. These fine dancers glide and writhe, forming multiple patterns and fluctuating the piece’s tempo as they take us and themselves on a journey with no clearly-defined destination.
Speaking of the unknown, what if you lived in a secondary solar system? Even more than that, what if you danced in it? Holly Noble’s Trappist 1 traverses through the universe via space-fantasy costumes and video footage mainly culled from popular culture and newsreels. As the human embodiment of planets, Richard Bermange, Ashley Morgan-Davies and Casey Nokomis reconnoitre not only an undiscovered dwarf star but the audience too, balancing between deconstructed ballet movement and an implied intimacy with us who are watching them.
If you missed the Festival indoors at the Rose Theatre, Kingston there is still a chance to see these dances presented outside at the Lyric Hammersmith Plaza.