By a strange coincidence, this mind-bogglingly mixed programme was linked by one tenuous thread: Estonia. The Last Hairy, by Estonian company Oksana Titova & Taavet Janesen S.P.A., is full of weird coincidences: songs from The Sound of Music, a bathtub, footage of a woman doing Tai Chi, shaving foam. Titova, looking bald with her fleshy skullcap, poses like a bejewelled mannequin, or teeters on heels with her skirt held over head, like a lampshade on legs. Dapper-suited Per Parenson joins for a bizarre foxtrot, and finally he turns brain surgeon, slicing into her skull to pull out the tresses tucked beneath. With ear-splitting amplification, lurid images and disjointed logic, it’s like a bad trip that leaves your head feeling hairy on the inside.
like a bad trip that leaves your head feeling hairy on the inside
Ignore the unedifying programme notes for Ffin Dance’s Flatline (basically the premise of the film Flatliners). Just watch the dance: it’s very well made. Choreographer Susan Lewis can weave satisfyingly rich patterns from a few simple motifs: arching from the floor like a sphinx, arms extending like feelers, soft topples and rolls. To the wintry sonorities of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, Lewis orchestrates her four dancers in fluid webs of motion – clear enough to follow, yet complex enough to keep you alert. In the best section, the dancers form rows that stir into brooding, restless flurries while a thin black line repeatedly slides down the backcloth like a sinking horizon.
Temitope Ajose-Cutting’s Say Your Prayers is not nearly strong enough to bear the weight of its theme: domestic violence. Four isolated women shudder, kick, cower and cover up. A voiceover spells out the why (‘his needs must be my priority’, ‘keep him calm’). The join-the-dots choreography – flails for entrapment, bops for enjoyment, slumps for resignation – uses a clichéd soundtrack (rock, bedsit dirges, a touch of Arvo Pärt) for emotional support. The set design, though, shows real promise.