Opening the programme with a refreshing blast of high energy and humour, Taira Foo’s Rainman depicted the story of two brothers, with a cast of eleven and suggestive of Matthew Bourne’s narrative shows. Their journey, complete with troubles and plights, was communicated sometimes a little crudely through evocative motifs, a backdrop of text, voiceovers and attempts at miming or acting which undermined the performance. An exploration of the potential of the movement vocabulary would allow the dancing to tell the story in its entirety, as it began to do in places, without the various other distracting methods. The large chorus often cluttered the stage and this was emphasised by the staccato isolations of the choreography which the dancers struggled to keep concise and in time.

Poignant moments where the brothers performed duets touched on the complex relationship between them, at one point almost becoming each other’s alter ego through weight-sharing, power-struggles and slipping in and out of unison. These sections, expanded and developed, could potentially guide the audience through their emotional journey as well as their physical one. The sensitive and emotional parts of the narrative felt too sudden and strained by the fast pace of the piece; attempting to convey an epic narrative within tight time constraints left it feeling rushed. The story unfolding more gradually would set a better provision for the audience to believe in the emotional triggers in the narrative.

Camila Gutierrez and Fionn Cox-Davies transformed the stage by removing the wings and revealing the sidelights to the audience. Musician Tomislav English delivered a percussive response to the Accomplices ahead of him in a calming and thoughtful play between two dancers, allowing the audience to recover from the highly emotive Rainman. Subtly suspending between lifts and falls, the pair engaged in playful competition, games of chase and spins which circled across the space. Although confidently performed, recontextualising contact improvisation into a rehearsed performance lost the element of risk and danger, preventing the piece from being anything other than a contact exercise. Although it appeared to be somewhat of a crowdpleaser on the night, rooted in movement and contact, it offered little else to uncover.

In (parentheses), a specially-commissioned piece for EDge, the postgraduate performance company of London Contemporary Dance School, six dancers seemed to ensnare the entire auditorium through their connection and focus alone. Brimming with power but never losing control of their dynamics, the colony of beings moved in response to each other throughout the piece. John Derek Bishop’s sound score evoked a tropical rainforest which the dancers seemed to inhabit. In a ritual of movement somewhere between flagellation and grooming, the commitment of the group engaged and almost transported me through a meditation from beginning to end.  The polish and professionalism of the work had a considerable impact on the night.

Witty, silly and outrageously flirty, The Nonsuch Dancers, led by Darren Royston, explored the social relationships that revolved around Tudor dancing in Rexussexus: Tudor Dirty Dancing. The constraints and restraints of the age revealed scandalous opportunities for touch, kiss and play during the act of dancing. Opening the piece as a lecture in the 21st century created a context from which the dancers could jump between different scenes and historical dances. Outstripping each other in the high kicks of the Galliard, or the speed of a sword fight to the stripping of clothes from their partner, the various scenes became disjointed throughout the performance by the multiple characters and musicians on stage, diverting attention from the coy moments of intimacy between the dancers. A more intimate environment focused on the interaction between the couples would evoke an atmosphere of sexual tension that the audience could engage in as a voyeur. As the Tudor outer garments were removed and spatial barriers were broken down, the dancers descended into an exciting, sexual frisson of historical and contemporary dance. At this point a more centrally-focused light would bring the audience’s attention to their physical relationships, illuminating the couple’s private world. A longer exploration of these relationships would allow the audience to indulge in the passions of Tudor life that mirror our own, while the tension between historical accuracy and its contemporary context will always inevitably exist in early dance. A showing of historical dance on the bill for Resolution! gave permission to create a work which exists in its own right in this century, an opportunity clearly grabbed by Royston that can be run with further.