Saturday: Anna Crofts

A midsummer deluge puts no dampener on the opening of Cloud Dance Festival. Jacksons Lane hosts the emerging festival, celebrating contemporary dance in all its variety. From street styles to physical theatre, new, emerging and established companies are given the opportunity to showcase their current work. Jacksons Lane Theatre, a Gothic church conversion, seems a perfect venue for a dance festival, with its intimate theatre space and good value Pimm’s (which came as a surprise to a South Londoner!).

It is always interesting to go to such events alone, as it is an excellent excuse to people watch. Cloud Dance Festival is in its third year and yet, already, it is drawing a wide audience of all ages and backgrounds. I had good expectations, then, of what would come next…

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Saturday: Erin Whitcroft

Jackie O’Toole & Dancers
Eve

What do you think of when you think of 1950s Hollywood? I think of tap shoes, tumblers of whiskey and ice, the smoker’s husky voice and a world that somehow seems clearer for its very lack of colour. It is not, however, these iconic images of golden age Hollywood that Jackie O’Toole and her dancers embody in the first piece of the evening entitled Eve. Far from it. Instead O’Toole focuses on an image, no less ubiquitous in the popular imagination: that of the 1950s housewife or more specifically of the connection between domesticity and madness. Two years before the invention of the Barbie doll, in 1957, the motion picture The Three Faces of Eve dramatised the true story of a housewife suffering from multiple personality disorder. Torn between the two poles of good and bad housewife, Eve White and Eve Black, the central character, played by Joanne Woodward, is taken through a lengthy process of psychotherapy before finally remerging under the more stable guises of a synthesised character called Jane. The purpose of my extensive preamble is not merely a case of verbosity unchecked but an attempt to impress on the reader, before even touching on the choreography, the sheer ambition of O’Toole’s piece. The mysteries of the fractured mind oftentimes remain just that: a mystery. However, if there is any type of art best suited to exploring the elements of the human psyche which extend beyond the bounds of formal syntax it is those mediums which are furthest away from the everyday conversation we hear on the bus or over tea. Dance, music and perhaps even poetry provide just such a way into the expression of the unspeakable. But it is a hard act to pull off.

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Saturday: Mollie McClelland

Cloud Dance Festival serving as a platform for new and emergent dance works by choreographers in different stages of their careers, is an excellent opportunity for production and feedback. In viewing the programme, and in writing this review, I chose to look at the works as works in progress, and as such to acknowledge the programme notes as indications of the artistic project of the choreographer. Therefore reviews are based not only on the work as I saw it but also the intents of the project as articulated in the programme notes, and the successes of the work in relationship to its articulation.

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