‘Less is More’ in Collaborations between Wimbledon Designers and LCDS Choreographers

United KingdomUnited Kingdom Various composers, Design Collaborations: London Contemporary Dance School/Wimbledon College of Art, The Place, London, 9.12.2015. (J.O’D)

LCDS <i>Design Collaborations</I> - (c) Camilla Greenwell

PYTAK 2056/5

Dancers: Spencer Weidie, Thiago Torelli
Choreographer: Jessica Johnson
Designer: Robson Baretto
Music: Dark Jovian by Amon Tobin; Inwards by The Soft Moon; Ayn Rand Interview; Encounter on Lo by Amon Tobin; Exit, Run 44 by Ezio Bosso and the Buxunsconsort Strings Orchestra

Bicycle Bicycle

Dancers: Mahina Moon, Caileigh Suline, Talita Terra, Thiago Torelli
Choreographer: Julia Bengtsson
Designer: Geonhui Matilda Go
Music: Walk on the wild side by Lou Reed; Stora E by Slagsmålsklubben; I put a spell on you by Jay Hawkins; Sin in the name of… by Fun-da-mental

Nineteen Thousand Grains

Dancers: Phoebe May Head, Beth James, Caileigh Suline, Kyle White
Choreographer: Sarah Brahim
Designer: Krystle Chan
Music: This Place is a Shelter by Olafur Arnalds; Fix by James Blackshaw; Petricor by Ludovico Einaudi


Dancers: Phoebe Head, Mahina Moon, Jessica Smith, Talita Terra
Choreographer: Tamzin O’Garro
Designer: Emma Louise Sutehall
Initial costume by Tamzin O’Garro
Music: Binding, by Florence and the Machine (instrumental)

Postcard from Ruby Battlefield

Dancers: Beth James, Jessica Smith, Kyle White
Choreographer: Micha Baltman
Designer: Sophia Bexon
Music: Mr. Moustafa by Alexandre Desplat (extract); String Quartet in F Major: II Assez vif – Très rythmé by Maurice Ravel; Woo Hoo by The’s; Requiem for a Revolution by Marc Ribot


Dancers: Margarida Macieira, Spencer Weidie
Choreographer: Matti Tauru
Designer: Phoebe Williams-Ellis
Music: Inhale by Olavi Louhivuori; Kyllikki – Three Lyric Pieces for Piano, Op.41: II Andantino by Jean Sibelius

If there were times during these six collaborations between choreographers and designers when dance and scenography vied for attention, this was not the case with the work that ended the programme. In the subtle Paradise, choreography and design enhance each other. It is partly a question of ‘less is more’: four cube-shaped, frame structures of different sizes; two dancers in white underwear with an armful of charcoal each that they drop, early on, at the front of the stage. Well-matched, equally compelling, Margarida Macieira and Spencer Weidie incorporate the frames into their earthbound duet, and take up positions inside them for the simple, significant gesture on which the piece ends.

None of the other five works has quite the same degree of synthesis. PYTAK 2056/5 is rather like an art installation of suspended mattresses and pillow under which the duet between Spencer Weidie and Thiago Torelli takes place. Again, Weidie compels for the flexibility he shows around the waist, but the coup de théâtre, involving a stake of fluorescent red and a moving face projected on to the pillow, is one of design alone.

Torelli returns to squirt whipped cream into his own mouth and the mouths of the three women alongside him in Bicycle Bicycle, the piece that followed. A representation of four people under the influence of hallucinogens (with audience participation), it is more anti-dance than dance. There is some skipping at first, but mostly the performers are crawling around the floor, shouting, or waving blue-and-white flecked columns in the air. All of this they do with gusto. The costumes are black, white and cream; Torelli’s striped trousers and frilly, see-through shirt have louche, period charm.

Two hundred kilos of basmati rice are poured on to a square of black cloth at one side of the stage for the delicately choreographed Nineteen Thousand Grains. The dancers, four women and one man, scoop up the rice and let it run through their fingers. One thinks of Isadora Duncan and her rose petals, and there is something Grecian about the pleated material of the clothes the dancers wear. The piece works best in the detail of its solos and duets: Kyle White’s balances; the hand of one dancer tracing a zigzag line in the air around the arm of another who stands opposite. When all four dancers move as one it is more like a class or an exercise. But a woman behind me murmured her appreciation when this dance came to an end.

The four, female dancers of …Blue… are first seen with their heads and the front of their bodies draped in veils of that colour in four different shades. The burka comes to mind, but also the ghostly nuns of the cloister scene in Robert le Diable. Above the women, and in front of the face of each one, hang transparent globes in vertical lines. In a piece that is about inhalation and exhalation, the women bend their bodies in silence as if blown into movement by the breaths of the other dancers. Later they hook their veils (with some difficulty) over the nearest globe to move more freely in short, black dresses.

‘The Story Takes Place in the Wreckage’ says the programme note to Postcard from Ruby Battlefield. The stage is artfully strewn with books, chairs, broken crockery, some fur coats, a front door lying flat, a plant. Three dancers in polo neck sweaters make use of these objects to act out tensions in their relationships. Beth James, in particular, is good at expressing these. Opening and closing on the same ‘to camera’ pose (seen first from the front, then from the back), the piece maintains an enigmatic but dispassionate atmosphere. It is from a distance that one watches what each dancer does with the books, the chairs, the crockery. When one them kicks over the plant, we understand, rather than feel, the climax.

John O’Dwyer 

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