Choreographers: Anthony Middleton, Pierre Tappon, Carlos Pons Guerra, Simone Damberg Wurtz, Luke Ahmet, Patricia Okenwa and Anthony Lo-Giudice
Director: Mark Baldwin
Reviewer: Dave Cunningham
The Lowry, having justly acquired a reputation for using its Studio facilities to develop new drama talent, now seeks to do the same for dance. Developed in conjunction with Ballet Rambert,The Future comprises seven new pieces from emerging independent dancemakers from Leeds and Newcastle. The intimate venue brings home the sheer physical effort involved in dance; in larger theatres the gasping and sweating of the dancers is not always apparent.
At times the ambition of the project overwhelms the content. Anthony Middleton’s Without End is designed to be staged in unconventional spaces – in this case The Lowry dance studio with the audience squatting on the floor. It has a cyclical nature being already underway as the audience enters and continuing as they leave. It is both delicate and acrobatic with the three dancers entwined in complex patterns and also lifting each other overhead. It is, however, difficult to appreciate the work fully as the limited sightlines imposed by the staging mean the dancers are occasionally visible only as reflections in the windows.
Simone Damberg Wurtz’s Bravery has elements of performance art taking the audacious decision to deliberately obscure the performers. It opens with the dancers, dressed in uniform blue overalls and linked together with harnesses, exploring the limitations and strains of working in close partnership. The concluding sequence however, uses sheets to cocoon the dancers that may be intended to have a disquieting effect but is hardly visually exciting.
Elaborate props are avoided; as the title suggests Pierre Tappon’s Wall makes use of stark shadows projected onto a blank wall. There is a strong sense of loss of control as, backed by Bach’s pastoral music played live by flutist Tony Robb, dancer Daniel Davidson behaves like a hapless puppet. Struggling against external forces and even his own rebellious limbs Davidson staggers around the stage and is slammed against the wall as if his body has become possessed.
Ruffle is easily the most charming piece of the evening. As in Ballet Rambert’s classic piece Rooster Carlos Pons Guerra’s choreography takes inspiration from the movements of animals. The dance blurs the lines between confrontation and seduction as Luke Ahmet and Mark Kimmett strut bird-like around the stage marking their territory and mixing aggression with attraction to suggest the tentative start of a relationship.
Another duet – II. Void by Patricia Okenwa on the other hand is a bleak portrayal of an affair going cold. It opens with Estela Merlos and Stefano Rosato dancing with fiery passion to Chanson d’amour but the duo gradually slide into isolation as the music changes and their movements become more solitary. The ardor of the opening dance becomes replaced by a sense of strain as the couple force themselves into exhaustion seeking to reactivate what has been lost.
Touch, the title of Kuke Ahmet’s piece, initially seems inaccurate as the three dancers, although moving in graceful perfect unison, ignore each other. Yet this restraint should not be mistaken for coldness as Ahmet uses it to heighten the emotional impact when the dancers overcome their shyness and make a connection.
There is a strong element of ritual to Anthony Lo-Giudice’s Savages. Although the combination of elemental and tribal aspects at times feels a little crowded it is the most colourful and has the fastest pace of the evening.
There are more hits than misses in this varied programme that certainly offers hope for the future of dance in the North West.
Reviewed on 3 September 2015 | Image: Contributed