Resolution 2018 Begins and Lucy Palmer’s The Left Hand Path Meets Audience Expectations

14/01/2018

Resolution 2018 [1] Mathieu Geffré Dance/Kendall Farrell/Lucy Palmer Dance: The Place, London, 12.1.2018. (JO’D)

Lucy Palmer’s The Left Hand Path (c) (Joey Barton, Kennedy Junior Muntanga, Nathan Chipps)
(c) Lidia Crisafulli

ACT

Choreography – Mathieu Geffré
Performer – Mathieu Geffré
Creative Producer – Michael Peter Johnson
Lighting Design – Yaron Abulafia
Costume – Verity Green

Submerged

Choreography – Kendall Farrell
Performers – Georgia Brown, Noa Genazzano, Flora Grant, Mila Mäkilä

The Left Hand Path

Choreography – Lucy Palmer
Performers – Joey Barton, Nathan Chipps, Kennedy Junior Muntanga, Harry Ondrak-Wright
Dramaturgy – Riley Wolf
Lighting and Sound – Jules Shapter

The opening night of this year’s six-week-long festival for new dance at The Place began and ended with works that presented very different versions of the dancing male body. In between was a piece for female dancers which focussed less on the body and more on the movement it made.

According to the programme notes, Mathieu Geffré’s solo, ACT, ‘tells a story of creation’. It starts with a circle of light on the floor, into which a man walks. He is dressed in a single, white garment that combines shorts with a bib and braces. Though his body is neither sleek nor lithe, the slow pliés and arm extensions show a dancer’s control of gesture. As the circle of light expands the man occupies more of the stage. Yet he seems to love the floor most: making full use of the support it provides; even apparently impregnating it at one point (like the men in Michael Keegan Dolan’s The Rite of Spring).

The soundtrack ranges from a poem by Dylan Thomas, to The Flight of the Bumble Bee, to Arvo Pärt. If the audience cannot always see the meaning of the different sections of the dance, something about the dancer makes it try to see a meaning. He appears vulnerable: offering a flower he has made from paper to someone in the front row; removing the white garment at the end to show his soft, not sleek, not lithe body in white underpants alone.

Kendall Farrell’s Submerged also begins with a circle of light on the floor. One that is crossed by shadows that suggest a prison. The four women who run into this circle, in almost workaday clothes, shake head, limbs and hair frenetically for several minutes before one puts her arms around another as if to calm her. The embraced dancer first of all breaks away, then fleetingly returns. As the light expands, in this case, the dancers move in a more restricted space. Each one repeats sequences of rapid gesture on the spot. It is a pity that the end to the piece is brought about through strobe lighting instead of through any logical climax to the movement itself.

The four male dancers in Lucy Palmer’s The Left Hand Path have bodies that are hard rather than soft. There is something of the athlete or boxer about the way they appear and the way they are used. They engage with the audience through defiant stares rather than the offering of flowers. Against the enigmatic and effective background of a diagonally placed frame that is now doorway, now mirror, they enact male rituals of leadership, competition and aggression. The work is similar to that of Balletboyz and Company Chameleon. It would seem to leave its lean and muscular dancers less exposed than Mathieu Geffré in his opening solo, even when Nina Simone’s warm voice can be heard on the soundtrack. It would also seem to be more in keeping with audience expectations. Of the three pieces performed, this was the one to be met with a standing ovation.

John O’Dwyer

Resolution 2018 continues until 23 February. For more information click here.

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