Dance Artists Present Eclectic Evening of Videos and Live Dance

United KingdomUnited Kingdom Wild Card: Eva Recacha – Dear Devil, Sadler’s Wells/The Place, Sadler’s Wells, London, 27.03.2014 (JO’D)

 Specimen 1 (Work in progress)
Concept and Direction: Eva Recacha
Performance:  Hamish MacPherson
Performers: Dog Kennel Hill Project (Henrietta Hale and Rachel Lopez de la Nieta) with Ben Alena, Charlie Ashwell, Luke Birch, Carly Blackburn, Tony Burch, Natalia Coe, Marina Collard, Robin Dingemans, Laura Erwin, Gene Giron, Rohanna Eade, Ronan Le Fur, Flora Wellesley Wesley
Direction and Concept: Dog Kennel Hill Project
Camera: Tony Wadham
Editing: Tony Wadham and Dog Kennel Hill Project
Lighting Support: Becky Stoddard


A Separation
Performance and Choreography: Colin Poole and Simon Ellis (Colin, Simon and I)
Lighting Design: Jackie Shemesh
Music: Lead Belly, The Supremes, Mahalia Jackson


The Wishing Well
Performer: Martha Pasakopoulou
Concept and Choreography: Eva Recacha
Sound artist:  Alberto Ruiz Soler
Lighting Designer/Technical Manager: Gareth Green


Exorcising in the usual off centre, quarter of the way back
Performers: Dog Kennel Hill Project (Ben Ash and Henrietta Hale)
Direction and Concept: Dog Kennel Hill Project
Sound: Dog Kennel Hill Project


‘Wild Card’ is a Sadler’s Wells initiative that gives ‘dance artists’ the chance to select and present work of their choice. The three works presented by Spanish-born, London-based choreographer, Eva Recacha (who has twice been a Place Prize finalist), were sandwiched between pre-show activities and a post-show talk with ‘authority, power, subjugation and rebellion’ as the themes of the evening. Under the heading of The Dictator, the pre-show activities were two, short videos: a five-minute work in progress by Recacha (which I missed); a fifteen-minute, spoof documentary by Dog Kennel Hill Project, Diabolic (2014), in which two female choreographers wield, or abuse, power as they audition a line of hapless, number-wearing hopefuls. (‘Dance how it feels to be a man.’) The film has the dry wit of Sheridan’s ‘The Critic’. From the knowing laughter of the people in the audience who looked like dancers themselves, it was an exaggeration of what really happens.

The heading for the first live work of the programme (and one being performed for the first time) was The Other. A Separation begins with a white man walking on to the stage and announcing: ‘We need to discuss the nigger problem.’ Performance duo Colin Poole and Simon Ellis (who perform under the name of Colin, Simon and I) create a genuinely disturbing, yet at times strangely tender, atmosphere. Poole, who is black, is passive throughout. Carried on to the stage in the second half of the piece by Ellis, who is white, he lies on the floor while divested of his T-shirt, which the other man puts on (it has the drawing of a Dalmation on the front). At the end he is half dragged off but remains, legs still visible, as the audience leaves for the interval. For his part, Ellis speaks in a made-up language, appears to imitate a black servant or slave opening a door for his master, and moves almost auto-erotically around the floor to the sound of The Supremes singing ‘Baby Love’. He uses eyes, voice, facial expressions and body to create a commanding, compelling, even demonic stage presence. And he ends the piece with a disarming, ‘Thanks very much.’

The second work, The Wishing Well (heading: The Rebel), was choreographed in 2012 by Eva Recacha herself. When the lights come up, dancer Martha Pasakopoulou rushes across the stage singing at the top of her voice and with her arm raised, as if in protest. In her yellow dress, with her small, strong body, she epitomizes youthful flexibility and energy. Skipping, bending, prancing, balancing (and showing pride in her ability to balance), she is like a dynamo. ‘This is my wishing well,’ says a woman’s voice on the voiceover/soundtrack. The dancer enacts a child imagining what she will be and what she will have, in the future. The voice sings in Spanish: ‘Dale alegría a tu cuerpo, Macarena.’ The dancer moves her body as if celebrating its potential for happiness. ‘Here is Martha with her wishing well,’ the voice says, switching to the third person. It now resembles that of a sports commentator, as if a wishing well were something to be used in a contest or a competition. If it is, the dancer somehow fails, or misses. After that, there is what seems like an inevitable decline. It is a shock, to see Martha Pasakopoulou suddenly transform herself into a stiff, bow-legged, old woman, her arm now rigidly outstretched as she hobbles slowly into darkness.

Still under the heading of The Rebel, Dog Kennel Hill Project (Ben Ash and Henrietta Hale) return, live this time, with more dry, edgy wit in Exorcising in the usual off centre, quarter of the way back. It is a piece that ‘plays with rhythm and repetition’. British motorways and A-roads, women’s names, extracts from good and bad reviews of what could be their own past performances; these are the things that take on new, mysterious or comic significance as Ben Ash and Henrietta Hale repeat them with deadpan faces. The rebellion might lie in their drawing attention to the act of naming. The extracts from reviews are accompanied by the sound of gunfire from a toy pistol. Is Henrietta Hale, who holds the gun, shooting down the critics, or is she suggesting that criticism is also a way of exercising power? It is pity that the two performers stumbled (just) once or twice over their lists, and that Hale puts on a ‘posh’ voice (‘posher’ than the one she already has) for the rather weak, final section.

John O’Dwyer

Leave a Comment