Novice choreography can often be anxious to grab attention, or be desperate to please. Katja Nyqvist’s Six Litres of Air is quite the opposite: reserved yet self-confident. It certainly takes guts to perform 15 minutes of unadorned, mid-paced sequences of scoops, drops and tilts, with only the swell of a cello for accompaniment, and with long intervals of stillness and silence. But, together with cellist Jacob Shirley, Nyqvist builds a hypnotic work that’s quietly compelling without ever becoming dramatic: her minimal, repeated phrases accumulate like layers, Shirley’s music blooms slowly, filling the air with sonorous sighs. It’s a work to breathe into. Small-scale, but a breath of fresh air.
Nikki O’Hara and Vanessa Cook are certainly eager to please in It’s Rude to Point. They give the audience goodie-bags (balloons, crosswords, pens) to keep us sweet. Their garishly patterned tops practically scream ‘kooky’. They do some air-guitar – fun! – and play games both with each other (pushing, shoving, then pretending to be sorry), and with the audience (we get to shout instrutions; a riot). There are the seeds of some good compositional ideas, and occasional hints at deeper themes about communication, separation, even power. But mostly they stay wacky, as if anxious that anything less lightweight might alienate their audience.
Underground7’s On the edge, in the shadow is a short piece, packed with both physical invention and emotional intensity. Three dancers circle restlessly in a pool of light on a darkened stage, darting around and slipping away from each other as if in a tense, unresolved stand-off. Breaking from the circle, partnerships form and splinter, always leaving an odd one out. It takes a while to notice that one of them, Welly O’Brien, has an amputated leg. In a unison duet with Victoria Fox, she seems almost evenly matched. With Jason Keenan-Smith, she’s lifted, she swings and keels about him, but only when they get floorbound does she become less reliant on his support. This really is a dance about communication, separation, and power.