An outstanding night of dance theatre at the JV2 2016 Triple Bill, curated by Jasmin Vardimon. The three compositions of work from the professional development company shocked, surprised and thrilled the Hull audience.
The innovative choreography and storytelling combined with the atmospheric soundtrack and subtle staging, all serving the performance very well. The sudden reveal of the bound and blindfolded girl turning and turning, the framework of her bustle lending her more momentum as she spun faster and faster, that single image will disturb the memory for a long time to come. Even more so that single sound, that went hand in hand, with the violent hacking movement, during the final piece… SHAH!… SHAH!.. SHAH!
The main house lights went down pitching us into darkness, a single lamplight casts a beam, that splits in two and floats up and down, side to side. More disembodied lights appear, rising and falling like idle stars. From the programme notes I understand these as being showers of tracer fire, or maybe the hopes and dreams, of a thousand refugees being extinguished.
A figure appears from nowhere wearing a floor length red dress, the mood shifts quickly from curiousity then trepidation to fear as the faceless figure advances towards us. Then hunched over, bandy legs like an old crone, retreats once more into the shadows.
There is much that is open to interpretation in the first work ‘Wound‘. For example, the red dress figure could be the might of the red army, or the indelible stain of spilt blood? The loggerhead, just children playing, or countries and creeds fighting to the death?
The stage floor is covered in snow, there’s a mountain, the figures clothed in black are creeping backwards across the stage – migrants in reverse, very current. The emaciation sequence is terrifying ; stomach distended unnaturally, as bones dared part company with flesh.
In the third work (in between) is it Mother Nature raging with Father Time? Death and renewal, but what of the young lovers, so playful and free? Their joy is transformed through jealousy then hardened into hate as worldly concerns and material values, threaten to disrupt the balance of nature. Never have I seen trees done with such power, such depth, such an atmosphere of intensity, the continuous hypnotic swishing sounds, the dramatic way each was felled, left you with no doubt as to the conservation message within the work.
The transitions between sequences seemed imperceptible, each movement flowed into the next as the repetition became pathological, building the piece to a very physical climax. Dancers throwing themselves up in the air, all switching and flipping simultaneously as if on invisible strings.
I can’t get over the powerful visual effect of all of the dancers advancing as one body, in unison, around the stage: the timing and footwork was something to behold. Towards the very end the co-ordinated movement turns into spectacle, as trains of dancers emerge, faster and faster, flashing across the stage, this way and that, like a chorus line out of control.
The star of this triple bill has to be the carny from second work Human Marvels. She who introduced the circus of freaks, with such relish and wicked delight. Small in stature, twirling a delicate black parasol, she had her own way of moving, a sort of signature dance that was almost feral and very much other.
The narration continued and expanded as each pair/individual exemplified a ‘flawed’ character trait, easy targets such as the vacuous celebrity puppet, sat rather uncomfortably, with a monologue describing the torment of losing a loved one to cancer. The duet that followed immediately after, felt like an arguing couple, full of spite and hurtful gestures: it was wonderful to watch as the pair fought.
I congratulated myself for noting the repeated use of the Collapse in this piece, the dancer loses the ability to hold themselves upright and sinks, as all tension is released from the body. Her malevolent parting gesture results in gasps of sheer delight throughout the crowd.
I must mention the sound, there were issues, the same feedback issues I’d thought I heard last week, during the show in the main theatre. Not only do the sound gremlins deter from the full enjoyment of the performance, putting you on edge, each time there is a loud crackle or hiss, it affects the performers on stage too.
There were some moments that I felt didn’t work, namely the odd section introduced by way of a brief lecture on feminism, concluding that blondes had more fun. The lifting and parading and fawning over the prizes, as each blonde-bombshell fought for the fickle attentions of the suitors was all fine, but that whole section seemed a bit out of place with the rest.
I want to see it again, all of it. At times it felt like watching dance in a different language – like the first time you watch Scandi-cinema or listen to world music. So many new ways of moving of using the body; so many ways to make sense of the inspiration: the impetus behind each and every step.
JV2 2016’s visit to Hull was made possible by the continuing and vital work of Hull Dance and dance community, in bringing professional contemporary dance companies to the city to deliver master classes and workshops and perform to Hull audiences. Tonight’s show was attended by over a hundred younger people, performing arts students from across the city, getting a master class in dance theatre. The audience development and exposure to varying professional companies, is vital in order to fulfil the promise of contemporary dance, both local and national, playing a major part in Hull 2017.
Wound by A Φ E
Human Marvels by Vinicius Salles
(in between) by Jasmin Vardimon
Jasmin Vardimon, One of Britain’s leading Choreographers, is on a mission to encourage and cultivate young talent – so she has created JV2. This exceptional company comprises 16 international dancers personally selected by Jasmin Vardimon to work with her for one year.