A bed, basement, car opens with Anna Bjerre Larsen in plain clothes, sensible shoes and specs. Her partner Keir Patrick looks pretty workaday himself, and together they peer at, gesticulate and shy away from each other in an entrancing sequence that’s part formal composition, part cartoonish caricature. Too soon, it’s over: the glasses come off, and the rest of the piece never quite recaptures that goofy rigour, though it follows a similar pattern of stylised actions and oddball non-sequiturs (flinches, shrugs, masturbation). Hanging lightbulbs provide fitful illumination. Though Larsen and Patrick are very watchable and the specs make a welcome return, the whys and wherefores are – like the action itself – often glimpsed rather than grasped.
Twice in Rachel Dean’s Entwined a voiceover simply spells out the premise: a woman remembering her grandmother’s sewing box, and how the women would tell stories as they stitched. That’s just enough information to thread a sharp line of imagery through the piece. Twisting and cutting bolts of cloth, tracing patterns in the air, Dean and textile artist Julia Kalache bring a series of storytelling metaphors to life: weaving tales, gathering material, fabrications. The drapes and swathes impart an almost palpable sense of being wrapped up in a story. It’s an entrancing piece. Enchanting music too: plaintive piano dissonances, motoric spinning-wheel rattles.
Lizzi Giles must love Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s seminal 1983 work Rosas Danst Rosas, which featured four women, four chairs, and a severe composition of sharp gestures diced and spliced in rhythmically overlapping sequences. Giles’s Disconnected is much the same, but with two women and chairs. Many actions look familiar: the jack-knifed torso, arms thrust or dropped, hands swishing over hair. Dancers Sarah Blanc and Linda Tabraham are committed performers, though not as precise as the composition demands. Disconnected might be a homage, or a study in the style of Rosas Danst Rosas; but if you’ve seen the original it feels like a pale imitation.