At more than 40 minutes long, set to snippets of everything from Haydn to Rumba, and with a list of performers as long as your arm, Cameo sounds like a mess. And so it is – but it works. Director Helen Plewis throws together a motley assortment of scenes, characters, costumes and props, introduced by a filmed credit sequence with about five alternative subtitles. Highlights include a beaming party hostess egging pairs of guests to guess the connection between them; an itchy group dance with everyone holding harmonicas in their mouths to create a wheezing accompaniment; and a white-robed woman who sings as she circles, like an angel strayed in from a parallel dimension. Cameo would benefit from some serious pruning, but it’s chock full of good ideas and often very funny.
A lot of dry ice, vaguely spiritual music, and meaningful looks. Mostly, though, it’s just reaching and swaying.
Sol Dance Arts’ Na Bi (Butterfly) has too few ideas, and – with its theme of birth, life and death – is very serious indeed. Four women gasp and double over, angling their arms like blind nestlings. Meditative duets follow, with some interesting interlocking lifts. A little girl rollerblades past with a pinwheel. There’s a yearning solo. Three women journey along a path of light. At the end they find another woman: it’s the nestling thing again. They all clump together and one stretches her arms skywards as if to say ‘why? why?’ There is a lot of dry ice, vaguely spiritual music, and meaningful looks. Mostly, though, it’s just reaching and swaying.
Like Cameo, Curt Hennells’ Pulled to Bits opens with a filmed title sequence. Unlike Cameo, it’s not funny and it’s not clever. The film includes clips of manga animation and of Hennells in the bath, the sitting room, in bed – all manically cut, to nerve-jangling, cyberpunk effect. The frenetic club beat eventually fuzzes with distortion and feedback. Hennells and his two female dancers keep up a barrage of gymnastic robotics, all kicks and tilts and spins – hyperactivity that serves to mask the weakness of the choreography, which keeps hitting the same pitch and pattern. It’s apparently about bipolar disorder, and it is indeed both manic and depressing.