There’s global warming, weapons proliferation, gene cloning, economic summits – all the socio-economic-politico-technological turmoils of our biosphere – and then there’s these two women on stage playing footsie. It’s just one moment in Together, a clever and captivating work by Danish choreographer Helle Bach in which four dancers wobble, shudder and flail through a barrage of news bulletins and special reports, intent on their own lives and blithely oblivious to the bigger picture. The piece opens with the four in a row, each manically stepping and spinning on the spot, like human specimens in a rat-race driven by their own incessant mental treadmills. Later they cluster and scurry about the floor, before one woman makes a bid for individual attention, flappily executing clichéd show-stopping turns, to the others’ supreme indifference. Together is lightly comic on the surface and faintly chilling underneath, nowhere more so than in the finale, a long sequence in which the deadpan dancers do nothing more than jiggle their hands, knees and boompsy-daisies to cheesy easy-listening music. They end by climbing into the audience and merging with the mass of spectators. We share the same global context but, like the performers, we’re more intent on the moment and our experience. We jiggle our hands in appreciative applause.
they jiggle their hands, knees and boompsy-daisies to cheesy easy-listening music
By contrast, Meghan Flanigan’s And (between two) is set within a contained and self-referential contemporary dance world. The piece explores the interactions and separations of two dancers, Alex Beech and Amy Voris, whose intermittent overlaps and exchanges are paralleled by the arrhythmic, doodling accompaniment of two sound recordings, spliced together. The choreography is more carefully composed than it first appears, with many repetitions and reversals of motifs, and there are nice touches and deft details to the duet: Beech hooks her arm around Voris’s neck as she spirals to the floor, their bodies intersecting and releasing like cogs that don’t quite match. But the piece is rarefied and introspective to the point of solipsism.
No such problems for Gerardo Romero’s Freakazoid, which uses body-popping and locking to tell the story of a nutty professor who conjures cyborgs from his computer. It’s cut to a pumping score that includes Dr Dre, Ice Cube and Michael Jackson. Romero stabs at his computer keyboard like it was a DJ turntable as the zoids appear one by one, in white plastic bodybags like all-over Pampers. Zoid 1 does ‘Billie Jean’, though it’s not clear whether Romero thinks that the kid is not his son. Zoid 2 comes on like a space-age Bride of Frankenstein, and Zoid 3, well she just fancies a bop. Romero could cut some tracks instead of filling them out, and concentrate more on moving the story along and digging into its cultish references. Freakazoid is enjoyable, populist entertainment that contains the seeds of something more inventive.