Reviewer: Peter Jacobs
Humanhood were formed in 2016 by Rudi Cole and Júlia Robert Parés – one from Birmingham, one Catalan. They bring together their shared interests in science – especially physics and astrophysics – and Eastern mysticism and have developed in a relatively short time a distinctive choreographic language that speaks of an almost symbiotic fluidity.
Less than a year ago, Humanhood performed their highly-regarded duo Zero in The Lowry’s Aldridge Studio. Here they present Torus as a five-piece company in the Quays Theatre, which speaks volumes to their rapid ascent within the UK dance scene.
A torus is a three-dimensional geometric shape best-described as a doughnut: a circular shape through which energy flows uninterrupted. This is a useful marker for much of their choreography especially in the early sections of the piece. The five dancers form an ever-shifting undulating circle that plays across the stage like a contained set of highly-charged particles: an interplay of darkness, light and electricity so fluid it is liquid.
Painstakingly-repetitive but ever-changing, each section of Torus plays with electricity, attraction and charge, developing into a series of trance-like rituals that are spiritual and mesmerising. Cole and Robert are unafraid to draw each section out until tension requires a shift of pace or direction, which speaks much to their confidence both technically and creatively. There are occasional echoes of Akram Kham or Hofesh Shechter – both an excellent talisman in UK dance – but for such a short career Humanhood have already developed a distinctive, hypnotic, engrossing, thoughtful style of their own that draws from science and spirituality and seems connected to the ancient yet completely modern and occasionally thrilling.
The new additions to the company – former BBC Young Dancer of the Year Connor Scott, Jill Goh and Tseng Tzu-Yi – are worthy additions to Cole and Robert’s movement aesthetic. They seamlessly fit into the unified physical language of the pair whilst Scott especially slides off into flowing solos that are expelled from and reabsorbed into the pulsing mass with electrifying elegance. But the five work together with impressive unity whilst being distinctive: all five individually watchable.
Humanhood worked with Taiwanese percussion group Ten Drum in Tainan and brought their organic and traditional sounds into exquisite collision with Birmingham-based (but Polish) electronic duo EIF. The result is a soundtrack that is challenging, evocative and stimulating, a kind of deconstructed tribal techno. This works alongside Mark Howard’s costumes in dark, powdery blues that evoke Eastern robes and Tom Visser’s lighting design, which uses darkness as a key element to create a crepuscular world where science and spirituality coexist in plain sight.
Torus is a satisfyingly-challenging 70 minutes that immerses the audience in a timelessly-shifting world that seems both ancient and rooted and otherworldly and fragile, like charged gasses under pressure contained with a vessel.
Reviewed 11 March 2018 | Image: Simon Tang