Alexander Whitley Dance Company’s Overflow – a mesmerising and memorable piece of work

Alexander Whitley Dance Company — Overflow.

My day began with the diffuse light of early morning fog rolling over the river, distorting perspectives and creating its own strange landscape. It ended with the powerful use of light in Alexander Whitley Dance Company’s performance of Overflow. 

Light and choreography dovetailed to create a mesmerising and memorable piece of work. Using what appeared to be a ‘simple’ strip light on a suspended boom, sliding, tilting, turning and twisting, following the dancers and creating spaces with both hard and soft lines. Spaces that were at once and at the same time containers and the endless eternity of deep outer space. Both solid and conceptual; tactile and illusory, there were moments when the visual perspective was so cleverly distorted that time also seemed to spin away.

Alexander Whitley Dance Company — Overflow. Photo by Tom Andrew
Alexander Whitley Dance Company — Overflow. Photo by Tom Andrew

The six dancers worked together to weave a visual magic. With the black and mesh costumes obscuring most of the lower half of their bodies, leaving the lighter flesh of their arms and faces to be picked up by the lighting, the dancers seemed to float on the semi dark stage. With limbs often connecting with one another to create extraordinary shapes and extended lines and one section when the dancers were only partially clad creating a tableau of writhing bodies, this was an exquisite work to watch. Movement punctuated with stillness and fluidity; repeated mechanical head and hand gestures and a cool, calculated carelessness portrayed the dystopian underworld of ‘big data’ and the indifference of the internet.

Perhaps the work was just a little too long. The ending, after such a tight performance, was rather loose and faltering leaving the audience hesitant and not knowing when to applaud. We were left feeling disconnected and chilly; not viscerally fearful but with a sense that all this transformation is going on behind our backs while we are unaware, living, as so many of us do in a twilight world of diffuse light and grey uncertain times.

Reviewed at Dance East Ipswich on November 8th 2019 (World Premiere)

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