You could see the onstage chairs in Côte à Côte’s The Sicilian as an unwitting metaphor, for the piece does rather fall between several stools. On one sits a text-based theatre production of a Molière comedy about art, love and cuckoldry. Atop another stool – or two – sit various dance forms: contemporary dance, freely adapted versions of tango and charleston that embody the story’s frolicsome couple-play. There are plenty of links between text, action and image: teasing tango toes, swingtime high-jinks, characters doubling up as model and muse. Despite these, and the declamatory clarity of the six actor-dancers, it’s hard to get a handle on – well, on anything. Director Hannah Field and movement director Beth Loughran have some tantalising ideas, but they need more focus.
By contrast, Heart of Ice – a solo by Anastasia Kostner, choreographed by Keren’Or Pezard – has a singular focus, the only distraction being the self-consciously poetic voiceover that opens the piece. Kostner begins crouched, face shadowed as she coils and unfurls; then grows more expansive, spooling out a series of long, spiralling phrases that swell, stretch and subside. The acknowledged inspiration is Russell Maliphant’s AfterLight (2009), and you can certainly see the similarity: the extended phrasing, the economy of means, the sense of spin and sigh. But the deceptively simple style is hugely demanding, and needs an exceptionally gifted performer to carry it off. Kostner and Pezard can’t quite reach that aim.
There’s nothing deceptively simple about Joss Arnott’s Threshold, a deliberately complex showcase for seven technically accomplished female dancers. This piece, too, has a clear influence: Wayne McGregor. Threshold is full of hyperextended limbs and hyperarticulated body designs – a single position might have wrist flexed, spine tilted, head twisted, arms skewed, legs splayed and foot on a forced arch. The group compositions are not complex – it’s mostly unison alternating with solos – but the piece generates a fierce if assaultive dynamism. It aims to impress its audience, and it certainly delivers.