Off of London's beaten track, The Albany is an unlikely arts centre located in Deptford. Walk inside, and it has that community centre feeling, but when you go further, the auditorium screams circus with its two-storey in-the-round seating, jewelled with bright lights. It seems that first impressions were deceiving.
In The Dust is a triple-bill from all-male urban contemporary dance company 2Faced Dance Company, featuring seven hurly-burly artists with training in ballet, contemporary, hip-hop and everything in between. They hit the ground running in Tom Dale’s Subterrania, a piece which explores the pulsating rhythms and heavy basslines of electro DJ Shackleton. The full company are enlisted to bang about, as loud as they can, causing a creative riot on stage. Together, they are dynamic, athletic, powerful: the essence of man? But it's true that you can have too much of a good thing: in this case, virile bodies in an enclosed space for an extended period of time; there’s simply not enough room for all of them and their bustling energy. In fact, they nearly knock down The Albany's walls with their power! As a result, some of the movement, and the abundance of energy that comes with it is lost, at times.
Politicking Oath, a creation by Place Prize finalist Freddie Opoku-Addaie, gives a courteous nod to the London 2012 Olympic Games and, with barely weeks to go, it’s certainly a topical work. Three men enter, each clutching what appear to be random objects (a pig mask, an alarm clock and a pair of running shoes), and lie down on the floor. They’re sleeping. But then comes the dreaded alarm, not just once but several times, like a series of false starts on the running track. National pride and identity arise and Alerto Bernal’s tightly-mixed score, mixed with sports commentary and speeches from national figures, begins to sound like a broken record. Against that backdrop, a simple game of piggy in the middle starts to relay a hidden message of politics or Politicking of human nature on a global scale. It may be the most athletic of the three works, but it's also the least engaging, failing to connect with the audience as successfully as the rest of the programme.
7.0 is the most successful of the three pieces due to its composition, content and climax. Choreographed by 2Faced Dance Company's Artistic Director Tamsin Fitzgerald, this piece centres around the devastating earthquake which hit Haiti in 2010. The piece is named in order to highlight the severity of this natural disaster, a huge 7.0 magnitude on the Richter scale and the dancers match that, in dance terms at least, with a violent surge of virtuosity which leaves you in disbelief. Somersaults, backflips, turning jumps that explode, mid-air, with an extra, quite unexpected manoeuvre thrown in at the very last moment. These guys are on fire! But more than that, there is power in their acting, their ability to tell a story or, more specifically, retell the stories of the many millions of civilians who suffered, all through the art of performance. It’s the realisation in the eyes of the dancers, that these people’s lives are in tatters. Goosebumps, a lump in the throat – this is powerful stuff.
They may be two-faced but, in this case, that’s only a good thing.