United Kingdom Various Composers, JV2 2014 – Triple Bill: Jasmin Vardimon Company, The Place, London, 8.4.2014 (J.O’D)
Dancers: Erina Apostolatou,
Choreographers: Paul Blackman and Christine Gouzelis
Music: Wim Mertens, Corrina Steel, Johnny Greenwood, Ben Frost, Iggy Pop
Costume: Xinyu Zhang and Catherine Garden
Purgatory: Nothing 2 Say
Choreographer: David Lloyd
Music: Jon Hopkins, Antony Partos, Alberto Iglesias, Joe Cocker, Fennesz, Nils Frahm, David Lynch and Neville Marriner
Costume: Maisie Todd and Rebecca Jempson
Choreographer: Jasmin Vardimon
Music: John Fahey, Sparklehorse, Brian Eno, Sir George Solti, Viktor Braun & Wiener Philharmoniker after Wagner, Deathprod, Berliner Philharmoniker after Mozart, Spiderbait
Costume: Rebecca Jempson after Danute Dainiene and Mariya Kohchieva
Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist, Jasmin Vardimon, ‘handpicked’ the eleven young, female dancers for this triple bill. The choreographers of the first piece are two former dancers of her company. The choreographer of the second is a current member. The third is a weaving together of sections from Vardimon’s own past work. It is not surprising, then, that there are similarities between the three. All eleven dancers appear, loose-haired, in each one. They crawl across the floor, leap from a crouching position, scuttle sideways in tightly knit groups. Yet each work makes use of such movement in different ways, and adds movement of its own to individual and varying effect.
Vohlfs, choreographed by Paul Blackman and Christine Gouzelis, shows the dancers moving as a pack. Its bleak and violent start has one of them being ripped to shreds (literally) by the others to the accompaniment of howling wind. This same dancer, though, appears to be reborn as a leader. She then commands through growls and grunts until her leadership is successfully challenged by another dancer. In its almost architectural staging of the group as antagonist to the individual, the piece often resembles photographs of early dances by Martha Graham and Doris Humphrey. There are also possible references to Nijinska’s ‘Les Noces’ of 1923. Their hands and arms forming complex patterns, the dancers arrange themselves in pyramid-shaped tableaux around their new leader. The stark, dog-eat-dog tone of the piece is maintained convincingly throughout.
The tone of Purgatory: Nothing 2 Say, choreographed by David Lloyd, is less certain. As well as movement, it includes both the spoken and the written word. Holding a microphone, one dancer explains what Purgatory is, and holds up placards on which the titles of sections charting one woman’s journey through the place are printed. When she does this, movement often comes to a halt. It is interesting to see the devil presented as a woman, but overall the piece has a rather jerky feel. Even so, it ends on a note of dramatic tension, and one that is expressed through movement alone.
Tomorrow, choreographed by Jasmin Vardimon herself, starts with a prologue in which a woman in a white, though bloodstained, dress walks towards the audience cradling white feathers in her folded arms. (Isadora Duncan, to whom this might be a reference, did the same, without the blood and with rose petals in her cupped hands.) The feathers fall to the floor to become the stage decoration for the remainder of the piece. The woman disappears as the other dancers, in grey jumpsuits, scuttle on from the wings. Once started, their movement never stops. It is almost perpetual when two of the dancers try to haul their companions to the back of the stage as they move ceaselessly, with outstretched arms, closed eyes and smiling faces, towards the front. The piece is a celebration of movement, the movement of women in particular. With their loose hair flying as they first bend then throw back their heads, the dancers end turning on the spot and giving cries of apparent delight in what Jane Austen called ‘the felicities of rapid motion’. JV2 is an initiative aimed at ‘engaging with young audiences’. ‘Tomorrow’ certainly did that with its young, and not so young, audience at The Place.