Here’s a clichéd image of contemporary dance: earnest, blank-faced performers in plain-looking, obscure choreography that wilfully ignores an audience who’d rather not watch it anyway. Alas, it has a grain of truth. Exhibit A: Laura Krasnic’s Across and Beyond, featuring four plain-clothes dancers, one experimental soundscore (think breathy noises blowing about a wind tunnel), and thirty minutes of more or less wafty activity.
Of course there’s more to it than that: no cliché is just the cliché. Beneath this unedifying surface, a compositional principle is at work: atoms of action (arms stretched into wings, fingers bunched into fists, torso hanging stork-like over stiff legs) are combined and distributed into compound phrases. Fine as a choreographic lab-experiment, but this is not enough for a performance, especially when only one dancer (Karolina Kraczkowska) has the physical eloquence to bring these material sequences to life.
Exhibit B: Daisy Thompson and Ian Gartside’s Both Perhaps Present. It’s similar, but pared down: two plain-clothes dancers, no soundtrack, twenty minutes of more or less robotic activity. Dead-eyed Thompson and Gartside pace up and down, in and out of unison. As before, atoms of action (a sudden crouch, a saluting arm, a trippy step) combine into compound phrases. Again, this might generate interesting results later down the line, but it’s not really presentable yet.
To finish, an offbeat oddity: Will Palmer and Thomas Goodwin’s Two Men, a Tent and a Match. In boots, breeches and braces, Palmer and Goodwin tussle over a groundsheet, turn it into a boat, shelter beneath it like a tarpaulin, and hoist it like a flag over mock-heroic poses. The piece has the feel of a silent film, Jacques Tati sight-gags gently satirising boy-scout virtues and körperkultur images of fresh air, wholesomeness and masculinity. It’s funny, occasionally faintly creepy, and wholly unexpected. Thank goodness, then, for another cliché: in Resolution!, you never know what you’ll get.