In spite of a few technical difficulties the opening night of Cloud Dance Festival’s 10th season was yet another accomplished production organised by director Chantal Guevara. A thrice-yearly festival showcasing a wealth of contemporary dance talent from national and international artists, Cloud Dance Festival is now in its fourth successful year. An eclectic mix of contemporary choreography, the aptly-named Trouble and Desire is Cloud Dance’s first offering of the year.
Unceremoniously opening the evening with their work From 1953 to here and there, choreographer and dancer Vanessa Abreu and violinist Noura Sanatian warmed up on stage as a mildly confused audience shuffled to take their seats in the Pleasance Theatre, unsure as to whether they should be paying attention to the duo or not. Improvisation over, an intriguing but incoherent work followed. Performing a single solo from a much larger work Abreu moved about the stage like a woman possessed, her movements simultaneously fluid and angular, accompanied by the beautiful sounds of Sanatian’s violin and interrupted by spoken text and the use of a microphone. Ending as abruptly and uncertainly as it began, whilst the physicality of the work was arresting the direction seemed lacking.
Up next was the altogether more traditionally constructed but by no means humdrum choreography of Annika Sillander and Rosa Pascual. Like a contemporary dance version of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, Sillander and Pascual’s work If pains must come, let them extend to few is a tragic, yet comedic, comment on the human condition. Consistently in character, the four strong dancers thrash about the stage in search of love and happiness, jostled along by the diverse soundtrack. Youthful and quirky in spite of its title If pains must come, let them extend to few is a refreshingly light hearted work.
An equally youthful company, Sol Dans are to be applauded for their professionalism in the face of sound and lighting difficulties halfway through their work. Abeyance, choreographed by American choreographer Melody Squire, is a beautiful lyrical jazz piece set in two parts. Seductive and sensual, the technical dancers convey the complexities of modern romance with envious strength and emotion.
Lead by music, rather than storytelling, Aya Jane Saotome’s solo Shifting Pulse is a disconcerting interpretation of the contemporary music composed by Bushra El-Turk. At times comical, at others haunting, Saotome’s animalistic movements often seen unrehearsed in this short, surreal work.
Another extract from a much larger work, Ffin Dance’s Sweetheart Roland tells the story of the Brothers Grimm fairytale of the same name. Beautifully costumed by Steve Denton, Sweetheart Roland is a magical piece incorporating contemporary, ballet and elements of court dance to tell its story. Musical and with a strong narrative the four technically astounding dancers effortlessly engaged the audience in their make-believe world.
Reworked since its performance at Resolution! Festival in January, Jessie Brett’s piece Fire Shadow Silence tells the story of Tina Modotti; the actress turned war photographer's life and mysterious death. The audience is presented with two women who engage in a languid duet somewhere between a tango and a tea dance. More coherent in its reworking, Fire Shadow Silence’s subtleness is beautifully poignant at times but still fails to fully engage its audience.
Immediately following in sharp contrast was Kinisi Dance Company’s high octane work Copy…right?. Exploring the idea of cause and effect the seven dancers bound about the stage continually creating connections and patterns before instantly breaking them again. Sharp and witty, Copy…right? is a truly enjoyable work.
Although facing stiff competition from a wealth of very talented choreographers and dancers who performed in the evening’s line up, choreographers and performers Gemma Nixon and Jonathan Goddard stole the show with their work Ladies and Gentleman, how bored are you?. A realistic exploration of modern relationships Nixon and Goddard lead the audience through a range of emotions, building from small gestural movements to violent, animalistic exchanges. Comfortable in each others company the duo’s interaction makes the viewer feel almost voyeuristic. Effective and enthralling Ladies and Gentleman, how bored are you? was a spectacular end to a successful evening. And in answer to Nixon and Goddard’s question, I think it is safe to say that no one was bored.
Reviewed by Jennifer Teale for Cloud Dance Festival