‘Creole’ is a mixed language, and though Shelley-Ann Maxwell’s Cry Haiti for her 8-person company Danza Creole uses no language, its dance style is suitably mixed: modern dance moves morph into acrobatic flips, a jazz slide merges with a weighty African swing. Yet Maxwell is less interested in physical complexities than in expressing the human spirit: the humble patience of a labouring woman, the sorrow and tenderness of couples leaning head to head, the yearning of outflung arms. The result is a fairly conventional dance, but also a warm, flowing and communicative one.
Joelene English’s Impasse is the opposite: an unconventional dance about unexpressed feelings. A montage of projected images – a silent scream, a body in a bathroom – sets the sinister tone. English is a mass of swoons and spasms, a rag doll one moment, a robot the next. Roberta Ferguson is also barely in control of herself: her hand clamps over her mouth, locking her other arm in place like a grafted limb. Wayne Summerbell, mouthing inarticulately, is a jittery, tourettish interloper. There’s no obvious story, but Impasse is as disturbing as a half-remembered nightmare. That’s down not only to the queasily disconcerting choreography, but also to the symbolic undercurrents – the appearance of a doll is particularly unsettling – and not least to the brilliant use of sound, which makes the stage seem haunted by suppressed voices.
There’s clearly a story in Nu Tempo’s Blood Song, which was inspired by Walter Salles’ Brazilian film Behind the Sun (itself based on a book). A stained shirt hangs on a line. In front of it, choreographer/performers Everaldo Pereira and Dominique Bulgin act out a passionate, full-bodied drama of chases, lifts and rolls. Pereira’s fingers form a pistol, Bulgin’s hairband becomes a tourniquet. But whereas Salles’ film was an effective transposition from one medium to another, here the story seems to have got lost in the process. So despite intense performances from the dancers and the on-stage musicians, the result is curiously hollow.