Undoubtedly the highlight of the evening is BDblaq Dance, who blaze on with swagger. A swirly-written sign, announcing ‘80s Vibe’, hangs above a projection of a (frankly too noughties) bar. Two men and two women in button-down shirts, braces and high-waisted trousers strut in, peacocking their body-popping. The performers are fizzy and alive, necking drinks and pulling poses with skilled lyricism. Fun hip hop commences: snapshots of a lively Friday night on the razz. The dancers audibly cheer, whistle and chat each other up. Their sharp energy and momentum is infectious: transporting us back to the more socially-connected pleasures of yesteryear. Their unison is styled with flare and charisma. A cohesive team, each with their own individual personas and micro-stories; it’s a joy to witness their comedic encounters.
Wilhelmina Ojanen’s common ground hits a more sombre tone. A Scandi, T-shirt clad foursome navigate a journey backwards in slow motion, as if moving in water. They turn to face us eventually and lead one another, childlike, in loose Farandole lines. Something dark haunts them – they clamber away from an unspecified danger. They stand together in a tight tangle; a jumble of limbs and heads pushing and pulling; holding each other back with arm locks. Weary, they breathily struggle between division and cohesion. The visual dynamic of this repeated device is restrictive and underwhelming.
The performers in Viki Čerček’s LEADS: Nature VS Culture suffer a series of shocks, articulated with frenetic shakes from core to extremity, their hands over their eyes. A musician – a powerful, spot-lit presence at the back of the stage – stares down the dancers, manipulating their movements with his soulful jazz. Dressed in block colours (one in turquoise, one in red, one in beige) they absorb the staccato electricity of the musical phrases and let it writhe through them. Whipped up in sudden power surges, fingers clasp their clothing and each other in messy embraces. Whilst the energy is enticing, more choreographic structure and musical interaction would increase the voltage.