I wondered, who is TOBY? A small collective of London-based female dancers performing distinct work, they are a worthy discovery. Led by choreographer Katy Higgins, who credits the dancers in the creation of the first piece of the night, Episodic 86 is an intense and captivating exploration of memory. Each dancers’ creative and physical force is evident as they unleash their individuality and perform the strong recurring sequences and unique elements with vigour, to the pumping electro/techno beats of music producer Benjamin Winter. TOBYhas an engaging emerging voice, that makes me want to see more.
A dance and lighting company is an intriguing thing, but Barnaby Booth literally makes light part of the performance in Loyal Prophets to an indifferent God. The omnipresent elements of God and light are enhanced by an eclectic soundscape and a narration that questions religion. The dancers are the highlight as they respond to the philosophical theme with a solid performance that has an aggressive edge, filled with confusion, angst and frustration. The dancers speak, they scream; a dancer violently flails until held down by another, as a spotlight is literally wheeled over to illuminate the moment. Although lighting is a key element, it is the cast that radiates.
#nofilter by ella&co. is #fresh #humorous #cool, and a thoroughly entertaining end to the evening. Attacking the social media addicted millennial world, four female dancers step onto the stage with t-shirts embellished with popular and pervasive hashtags. With rigid, digitally inspired hip swirls and gym squats, they comically explore the pressures to be Instagram-ably perfectly presented. They poise, strut, and preen with forced smiles; desperately seeking the validation of likes. But the satirical music video moments are interrupted by notification and swiping sounds, that disrupt the dancers’ flow and break our attention, with the feeling of flicking between apps. The superficial, deliberately over-exaggerated choreography delves into the darker, emotionally isolated side of Millennial life, until they all break into a joyous freeform dance explosion, that ends the night on a hopeful note.
Reviewed by Savannah Saunders at The Place, Resolution Festival on 13 January 2018.