First thing to say Hull Dance Prize is never boring; whether it’s exploding water melons, blinding tech; audience participatory ballet class; a fresh choreographic language with all the feels. Weds 14th Nov saw the 5th Hull Dance Choreographic Prize taking place on the big stage at Hull Truck.
Four very, very different pieces for the judges to choose from, this year the judges were Liv Lorent from Ballet Lorent (come and do another beginners class with us next year) Errol White from White & Givan and Gustavo Fijalkow. The judges award £3,500 to the artist/company whose work they think will benefit the most from further financial investment. Then there is the Audience Award of £1,500 that’s where we press the button on the key pads to choose the one we feel is most deserving. Simples!
The four all hoping to be crowned Hull Dance Prize Winners 2018 are:
Anthony Middleton (soloist) in collaboration with Grim Visions – Drift
Carla Morill (soloist) – Oba-Phase II
Rachel Clarke Dance Company – White Noise
Gareth Chambers (soloist) – Excessive Edit
Regular readers will recognise opening work Drift sees two former prize winners teaming up: Anthony Middleton one-half of Middleton-Corpus (2017 Audience Prize) working with Ed Grimoldby of Grim Visions (2017 Judges Prize) Using digital mapping and projections a statue-like figure begins to revolve on the spot, body-shape transfigured by a sculpted dress rigid sculpted folds and pointed shapes that cast dramatic shadows on the digital backdrop. The movement expresses joy and wonder at the beauty of the earth then slowly changes to distress, fear, torment and eventual defeat in this salutary tale of the dangers of global warming.
It is strangely beautiful, the painted face bringing mime to mind likewise the deliberately restricted movement, conjuring the quality of a figurine in a music box. I found the backdrop too mesmerising particularly during the ice and fire sequences which took me away from the dance somewhat.
Next Hull dancer Carla Morill recent Masters grad. Leeds Beckett and former member of LO:CUS Dance (Double Winners 2015, 2016) She builds a series of powerful poses arching rippling her upper body, every move is defined, sweeping leg extensions straight as a die, variations on the shoulder roll breaking the movement down into component parts. There’s something heroic about the piece, eyes fixed on the horizon. The energy in the quivering hand transferring to the rest of her body becoming amorphous and all consuming. Body not just creating enthralling shapes, but the phrase to get them there makes you rethink the way you see the body how each part is connected to the other.
In the notes Carla explains her piece is about the possibilities of what the body knows, sensitivity to movement, kinaesthesia… I won’t even pretend to understand what that is. I wonder if it is something the body knows and has forgotten, or something it has to learn to know?
The third piece Rachel Clarke Dance Company and White Noise choreographed by Rachel Clarke danced by Kayleigh Price and Amelia McCarthy. It would appear to be such rich ground for choreography I can’t believe Ive not made the connection before… BSL British Sign Language intuitively lends itself to dance, it’s all about expression, gesture, communication and storytelling: that’s dance in a nutshell.
It is the communication or the struggles to convey meaning to reach understanding that the work focuses on. Mirroring phrases suggests early connection then repetition eventually leads to frustration, the conversation breaks down as one dancer pushes away from the other. There is almost no sound in the piece apart from heels thundering rhythmically on the floor… I’m struck by the fact that dance can be enjoyed by people with hearing loss… perhaps over other forms of artistic practice. I really enjoyed this playful piece. It’s serious intent struck a chord, me being someone whose hearing is shot. I enjoyed the audience participation, the charades, that further cemented the idea that hearing folk can fail to communicate words without speech.
Then came Gareth Chambers Bransholme dancer, strolling down the theatre steps swaggering onto the stage, bag slung over his shoulder, drink in hand, laid back as you like. (Previously instructed to switch on the Instagram live feed on phones, many members of the audience are firing strange comments, reactions to his entrance) He crosses the stage and proceeds to sit behind his laptop, playlist on, before taking a blast of poppers (Amyl nitrate) a common sight in queer clubs and begins to gyrate on the stage, as if dancing in the club on a friday night.
The screens in the palm of audiences’ hands are filled with his semi-naked body, bathed in blue light, as Gareth moves engages in hypnotic repetitious movement, now crawling of the stage in a state of ecstasy: the poppers would have seen to that. And celebrating unashamedly his body in the space, it’s playful and unrestrained but it carries a salient message about how we have come to consume visual art, and how we as a digitally connected society, endlessly document experience.
It felt like throwing a hand grenade, opening the flood doors while holding up a mirror: this is the future.
After a long deliberation and an enlightening Q & A with all the performers (good addition that) the 2018 Hull Dance Choreographic Prize winners were announced:
Judges Prize: Rachel Clarke Dance Company
Audience Prize: It’s a tie! Carla Morrill and Rachel Clarke Dance Company
Well done to everybody and to Hull Dance… I love Dance Prize it’s one of my favourite nights of the year!
See Past Award Winners CLICK HERE