Music came to the fore in the three pieces on this bill – but only in the opening Jolly Joker Jam, choreographed and performed by Philip Amann, was the dance a match for its score. With live piano and percussion accompaniment, it begins with a hushed brushing of cymbals, then ups the tempo into carefree but driving jazz riffs. Amann first partners the piano, later duets with the drums. He is both effortless and exact. With one hand left casually in his pocket, he lets the other topple and twist him, and he peppers liquid jumps and tumbles with odd shoulder shrugs and unexpected footflicks – like offbeat accents or jazzy harmonics. Easy on both eye and ear, this unprepossessing piece is quietly compelling if you’re prepared to watch and listen.
a strange green plastic star, dangling from a fishing rod like a kind of low-budget Mysteron, lures her into reliving her past
Hiromi Ishikawa’s Swan Song tells the story of an ageing musical dancer. She is flopping petulantly about her dressing room when a strange green plastic star, dangling from a fishing rod like a kind of low-budget Mysteron, lures her into reliving her past. This comprises a jazz number complete with Bob Fosse-style bowler hat, an angsty modern dance to angsty modern string music, and a yearning-reaching solo to a melodramatic French chanson. The choreography is generic, casting aimlessly about the stage simply to fill out the music. And Ishikawa herself is too young and too literal-minded to express the nuances of ageing and remembrance.
Choreographer Lisa Speckman has ambitiously chosen to update Stravinsky’s Les Noces, transposing the story of a traditional arranged Russian wedding to a Londoner who orders an internet bride from Moscow. The four dancers are multiplied by the clever video projections, and there are some effective dramatic moments – but again much of the busy choreography marks time for the music to run its course. Despite a lot of effort and plenty of ideas, the piece is overwhelmed at every turn by the monumental weight of Stravinsky’s clamorous score.