Billed as a “cross between the Turner prize and The X Factor”, the Place prize for new choreography has big bucks behind it: £25,000 for the overall winner (announced on September 27) and £1,000 for the audience favourite every night. In previous outings, too many entries seemed desperate to please; happily, the five finalists this year aim more to command attention than to curry favour.
Aletta Collins’s witty but slight Lap Dancer comes closest to light entertainment. Rachel Krische, suitably nerdy in thick specs and thin tie, is sucked into the world inside her laptop, reduced to a mass of tautly choreographed tics by a cacophony of alert sounds, dialogue box options and e-commerce.
On Thursday, the audience favourite was Dam Van Huynh’s Collision, also with a cybernetic feel. Van Huynh, David Mack and Franklyn Lee, in teeny trunks and corsets, deliver some punchy posturing, a bit of kung-fu combat, and many seriously hi-tech manoeuvres. Physically, it’s damned impressive; dramatically, somewhat hollow.
In Adam Linder’s Foie Gras, he and Lorena Randi are outlandish creatures: he is a slithery lizard, she is part crazy antelope, part clumpy ape. They morph into catwalk models whose sashays are sabotaged by their own jerksome bodies. Then, in head braces, they thrash to heavy metal. It is confusing, but with a trippy fascination.
My favourites were the two quiet pieces. In Anna Williams’s Clearing, Petra Soor and Hannah Shepherd are constantly at odds, yet the expertly phrased choreography meshes them intimately together. Simon Ellis’s broodingly suggestive Gertrud, in which he is haunted by the disembodied voice of a dead dancer, may not always work, but it aims both high and deep. Its use of lighting, sound, text and image is simple, imaginative and very bold.