There was a palpable buzz of excitement at Sunday evening’s performance. The final night of Cloud Dance Festival, this unfunded choreographic platform is clearly of huge value not only to its participants but also to its enthusiastic audience.
In the opening work One, choreographed and performed by .identi.co, three dancers in plain dresses travelled about a semi-dark stage. They alternated between rapid, dynamic movement and sustained bodily swirls whilst switching on and off four lamps of varying shapes. The song lyrics posed the question ‘Can I make it better with the lights turned on?’ while the dancers correspondingly seemed to search for clarity and light amongst the confusing darkness. Their final answer was unclear but the choreography was nonetheless pleasing to watch.
Ella Robson Guilfoyle’s SHE used the background noise of a pub as two men sat silently and motionlessly at wooden tables holding pints of beer. Surreal female figures in white then cluttered the already-busy stage, their mental turmoil initiating frustrated motions. Contrasted with the stillness of the men (who seemingly represented the women’s unconcerned boyfriends), that well-known feeling when everything inside is about to explode but an outer guise of normality must be retained was lucidly expressed.
Exploring the idea of viral ideas and their infiltration into populations, Richard Bermange’s choreography had to be hastily amended due to one of his six dancers getting injured at the last moment. Richard Bermange’s five dancers performed to varied short sections of music in Virus, each in correspondingly different styles from jerky, robotic jogging to playful, upbeat jazz and lyrical balletic pas de deux. Successfully conveying its theme, the dancers looked contented until the dramatic final tableau as a girl curled herself into a protective foetal position, finally defeated.
Made for a single female in a salmon pink dress, Taciturn’s A turn or two used unusual movements in three distinct sections accompanied by 60s music. Commencing with an odd sequence of small jumps with few hand gestures, the choreographic intention was unclear. Jennifer Hale, kneeling down, then repeated and aggressively threw her head towards the floor. This she followed by shuffling a line of onstage flowers into a pile before using them as a gun-like prop, to Pete Seeger’s song ‘Where have all the flowers gone?’. A turn or two reached its strange end with Hale reiterating some of the song lyrics in her sweet baby voice until the lights lowered.
In Deaf Men Dancing’s Sense of Freedom, four men dressed in suits with Elvis wigs and dark sunglasses strutted around the stage as if on a catwalk. Spoken words described the mundanity of work, life and Monday mornings; the cast moved freely to catchy pop music, creating a playful and joyous contrast. With its irresistibly camp pelvic thrusts, body ripples and substantial leaps, the piece explored the feeling when the spirit lifts as you totally connect with a piece of music. Sense of Freedom had me tapping my toe along to the beat and grinning.
EDDance’s Stabat Mater involved five girls in pretty dresses repeating circular motions around the stage. Intended as a meditation on loss and grieving, the choreography lacked the necessary emotion. To the melodious sounds of Vivaldi (an operatic vocal with strings), Stabat Mater was pleasant to watch and danced with technical merit but left an overall feeling of insincerity.
Against a bright blue backdrop Devaraj Thimmaiah’s Arranged Marriage investigated the difficult bond created between two people in the title situation. To an eclectic mix of music, the husband used the floor in menacing, lizard-like poses. With recurring twists of the neck, he engaged in ferocious struggles with his ‘wife’ contrasted by quietly beautiful moments of stillness. The metaphor was clear and the choreography full of raw, passionate energy. However, towards its end the sense of momentum flailed making it feel overly long.
Sunday evening concluded with a second showing of Kristen McNally’s Don’t hate the player, Hate the game. Again performed exceptionally by Tommy Franzén, this rounded off Cloud Dance Festival’s weekend of choreographic treats wonderfully. However, with a lack of funding, whether the festival will continue to flourish remains to be seen.
Written by Laura Dodge for Cloud Dance Festival.