Cloud Dance Festival runs three times a year, moving from venue to venue to try to reach as many different communities as possible with the provision of a platform for professional and innovative contemporary dance. The next instalment from them will be Hush at Cochrane Theatre, in Holborn, 16th-18th July, so don’t miss out! Led by director Chantal Guevara, they never fail to present a varied selection of work that ensures there really is something for everyone to enjoy.
The evening started off in a very informal manner – the members of the first company were onstage warming up while the audience came in and settled into their chairs, wondering if they were meant to be seeing this usually private preparation for performance. Vanessa Abreu’s solo From 1953 to here and there… And then? And never again! is a piece for 1 female dancer, performing 3 solos with 3 chairs and 3 costumes – but due to time restrictions for Cloud Dance Festival we saw only the last section.
She signalled that she felt ready to start by holding up three fingers to the lighting box, showing that it was the third and final section of the completed work. She then stripped off her warm up clothes down to her underwear and performed a really quite beautiful yet rather disturbing solo which expressed fears and tension, complemented wonderfully by the tense and discordant music score and long periods of intermittent silence. She advised us at the end to avoid such things as cars which crash, boats which sink and animals which are just scary, then both she and her musician simply left the stage with no formal ending or curtain call to ruin the casual nature of the performance. This piece showed daring physicality coupled with strong emotive skills and was altogether a powerful start to a varied programme of contemporary dance.
Sillander & Pascual’s If pains must come, let them extend to few is described by the company as a tragicomic and somewhat gritty look at happiness. The collaboration between the designer and choreographer resulted in a visually stunning piece of work, which was delightfully humorous to watch.
Sol Dans returned to Cloud Dance Festival with a new work, Abeyance, which consisted of a duet and a solo. The duet was soft and tender, the two dancers intertwining and expressing a quiet passion for each other. The solo was by contrast quite fierce and almost aggressively independent. Both were beautifully choreographed and staged by Melody Squire. During the performance a skipping CD resulted in the soloist having to leave the stage and restart from the top of her section, but she came back out and performed outstandingly nonetheless. In theatre, Murphy’s Law reigns supreme, and these professionals are more than capable to deal with whatever is thrown at them.
Aya Jane Saotome was dancing tonight without her sister Hana in a rare solo, Shifting Pulse. Surreal, edgy, a bit disturbing yet amusing at the same time, this choreography shows that Aya is as quirky and talented as ever and isn’t afraid to show it.
Ffin Dance brought us an extract of a longer work, Sweetheart Roland, based on the story by The Brothers Grimm but given a new life by choreographer Sue Lewis. This piece was sharp-edged and sassy, with a clear narrative and some really beautiful musicality.
Jessie Brett’s Fire – Shadow – Silence opened the third and final section of the evening, with a red light in a lamp shade downstage right. Inspired by the life of Tina Modotti, this piece was originally designed to include projection but this was taken out for tonight’s performance. I can’t comment on the value of the projection having never seen it, but the piece did not seem to be lacking anything – the relationship between the two dancers invited us along an emotional journey; we saw a vision of sadness coupled with a youthful passion silenced too quickly.
Kinisi Dance Company provided yet another sharp contrast in style and content within the evening’s programme of dance. Charlene Dinger’s Copy…Right? is an amusing and inspiring view of the learning process and its outcomes. The choreography was energetic and sharp, the dancers were engaging, and they were altogether a welcome lift in the proceedings.
The evening finished off with the traditional headline act – Cloud Dance Festival always saves the best for last. The Goddard | Nixon Project presented Ladies and Gentlemen, how bored are you? This collaboration between two extremely talented dancers was truly the highlight of the evening, with a touchingly sincere duet exploring the ups and downs of modern relationships.
Reviewed by Debbie Shine for Cloud Dance Festival