Perfectly Valid, by Tight Corner Dance Company, opens promisingly, with a clear structural idea: four dancers in cumulative, unison phrases, each occasionally moving out of phase before rejoining the group flow. Ambient noises (footsteps, a rattling train, a door closing) accompany a video projection of the sea – aural punctuation against a visual tide. But these suggestive undercurrents of individuality against unity could be pushed much further. The rest of the piece also contains some thoughtful compositional ideas, but they’re dissipated as one episode gives way to the next, skating the surface by trying to cover too much ground. The music doesn’t help – instrumental earwash over a blandly regular pulse. The result is far from perfect, but perhaps the experiment is valid.
Tight Corner could learn from In:House company, whose Out of Body takes one underlying idea and develops it into a 15-minute work. The core idea is physical: limbs, spine and head squirm and quiver, out-of-synch with each other, competing impulses galvanising the dancers’ bodies into nervy forcefields of sparks and flickers. The effect is both animal and alien. Bird-like struts and flaps alternate with reptilian slithers, limbs tremble like insect antennae. Enlivened by the subtle and unpredictable rhythms of its rattling, rubbing score, Out of Body is inventive and varied – both in the individual and the group composition – and it’s just the right length to sustain its premise.
too many pieces resort to a musical backdrop that slaps synthetic instrumentals onto a repetitive, four-square drumbeat
Rooted in West African dance style, Ernest Kwame Obeng’s Lonbo portrays a ritual invocation. Obeng beats a drum that he upturns into a bowl – a vessel that he carries and raises to the masks suspended above him. He’s a charismatic dancer, weighty, focused and sinuous. He’s joined by Afua Awuku, dressed in red, who enters like a female deity, a faintly oriental melody winding about her swaying hips. The rite suggests sexuality, fertility and possibly birth: he unwinds and stretches out a phallic length of loincloth; she proffers the upturned bowl; together they’re led towards a symbolic gourd placed atop a stack of sticks. Awuku is overshadowed by Obeng’s powerful presence, but this is an atmospheric piece – though it’s intermittently let down by the music. In general, too many Resolution! pieces resort to a musical backdrop that slaps synthetic instrumentals onto a repetitive, four-square drumbeat. It might work in a club or a bar, but in the theatre it can get very wearing.