United Kingdom Resolution 2018  – B-Hybrid Dance, Yu-Hsien Wu, Gibbon: The Place, London, 23.2.2018. (JO’D)
Masc 4 Marginalisation
Performers – Dakarayi Masheva, Sydney Robertson, Ted Rogers
Choreography – Brian Gillespie
Sound – Maiz by Murcof
Performer – Yu-Hsien Wu
Choreographer – Yu-Hsien Wu
Collaborator – Kuan-Yu Chen
Costume – Anna Baumgart
Sound – Khaya Mshengoristo Maseko
Performers – Gibbon (Chris Patfield & Jose Triguero)
Choreography – Chris Patfield, Jose Triguero
Sound – Blowing in the Wind by Bob Dylan, Hunted Down by Garry Scott James
Pairs of coloured socks, laid out on the stage in arrow formation, are what greets the audience taking its seats for the final triple-bill of this year’s Resolution festival. They are the props for B-Hybrid Dance’s Masc 4 Marginalisation. Founded by its choreographer, Brian Gillespie, in 2012, this company showed promise when I saw it in the Resolutions of 2014 and 2015. ‘Simple but effective’, the socks themselves suggest a sharpening of focus.
The company’s dancers, this year, are reduced in number: three men in underpants and vest or long-sleeved top, who take up their positions at the back of the stage. In a silence punctuated by the sound of a beep they strike highly provocative attitudes, as males, as females, as any gender you like. Advancing towards the audience they try on and discard the pairs of socks in turn, to the accompaniment of their own grunts of displeasure or squeals of delight.
Once at the front of the stage, the men start to walk quickly in diagonal lines, still in silence, each one dodging or confronting the other. Eventually coming together in a close-knit group, they remove the clothing from the upper part of their bodies and, to fast-paced music, begin their dance. For the first time, I am reminded of the B-Hybrid Dance of previous years: movement that stays close to the floor, involving frequent squats and backbends; movement carefully applied as the three men balance and support each other like a polyamorous trio. The dance culminates in a knot-like pose that resembles the Malliol sculpture of the Three Graces, only these men stand closer together and raise one arm to link hands in the air.
Dirty Paw also starts with a dancer at the back of the stage, but because of the semi-darkness and Yu-Hsien Wu’s ability to twist and contort her body, it looks like two dancers at first. With hair brushed forward to cover its face, with a leg in what looks like an impossible place for a leg to be, this monstrous figure crawls forward until it reaches a red garment lying at the front of the stage. Using its teeth at first, the figure manoeuvres itself into the garment, which turns out to be a jumpsuit.
The lights come up; the soundtrack switches from uneasy sighs to the hum of urban life; the dancer pushes back her hair and embarks on a whistle-stop tour of movement styles that includes skipping, basketball, chainé turns and human shadow theatre. The soundtrack takes in Donald Trump inciting his supporters to commit acts of violence and Theresa May’s ‘strong and stable’ speech. On the basis of Dirty Paw, Yu-Hsien Wu is a sure-footed performer who can surprise an audience, but with so much going on its twenty-minutes the piece comes across mainly as a vehicle for her talent.
Expectations were aroused by the haze and the squares of light on the floor at the start of Gibbon, a work that combines juggling and dance. In their dark suits and smooth bare feet, with their deadpan expressions and ironic comments, Chris Patfield and Jose Triguero are an engaging double act. At their best they perform what are really dance duets while juggling three balls each. But among the stunts that were led up to and did not happen, stunts that happened but went intentionally wrong, there were too many unintentionally dropped balls. So many, in fact, that I began to feel uncomfortable for the performers and was relieved when the piece came to an end.