Saudade is the Portuguese word for yearning, for missing something – the emotion felt in the presence of an absence. That uncanny cusp between presence and absence underpins Clélia Vuille’s dancework of the same name. Two costumes hang like empty casings for absent bodies. Flashes of light catch ephemeral encounters. In one scene, some performers hold real balloons and others hold imaginary ones. In another, three dancers progress in one direction while another reaches back, towards something that exists only in her mind. It’s a thoughtful piece but a little dissipated: individual scenes work well, but together amount to too many treatments of the central theme. Vuille could easily do more with less.
Saran Kohli’s Molecules of a Dream turns upon a similar idea – the yearning to realise a dream – but there the likeness ends. This upbeat, MTV-style showcase of tight-knit formation dancing featuring a sharp-suited Sikh and his equally stylish posse of four, tracks Kohli as he alternately enacts teenboy fantasies – ninja warrior heroics, R&B swaggers, Zen-monk meditations, an acting-out of Bohemian Rhapsody – and more humdrum realities: a scolding parental voice, a girlfriend who dumps him. The dancing is as slick as the music and stylish as the suits, and though it’s not deep – what you see is what you get – it is quite a hoot.
In Umbrella Man: A Love Reharvested, Tyrone Isaac-Stuart emerges from a plastic bin onto a stage strewn with red and blue umbrellas. There’s krump in his style, but he’s more skewed, more blocked and contorted than even that pent-up form of expression. He is an abject creature, battered by the beats and voices on the soundtrack. He trembles behind a carapace of a whorl of umbrellas; stands upside-down, fingers jabbing at his own back, his palms blood-red. A voice speaks of the redemptive power of love, but what we register is pain – even if we can’t fathom its source. A work is as searing as it is perplexing.