Jemma Bicknell’s Please Not Mine falls between two stools. On the one hand, she tries to tell a story: a man leaves a woman alone in a spotlight, where she does lots of dancerly emoting (expansive reaches, coiled contractions and suchlike), while he goes off with a group of others before returning, rather remorsefully. On the other, she seems more interested in group composition than plot or character: there’s a simple but highly arresting walking section (over far too quickly), and some well crafted ensemble work. Wet blankets of morose indie music contribute to the sense of a creative spark that hasn’t caught hold.
Thom Rackett’s You Just Live has plenty of spark. Forget the superfluous opening scene – a standard contemporary-dance stand-off between a couple – and boggle a bit at the rest. One man keeps posing the question “how do we best live?”, and muses that the answer may be “by just living”. While philosophising, he gets drawn into a sort of fencing-match, with a table stand and top for a foil and shield. Then he becomes a magnet for a backing trio who, no matter how he lays them down still, keep bubbling back to life and returning to shimmy behind him, as if fulfilling their life’s purpose. With apple-eating, newspaper-stuffing and blasts of operatic arias, it’s pretty discombobulating, but you feel that you have just lived a little.
Joss Arnott’s 24, apparently inspired by the work of Alexander McQueen, features six Amazonian woman with fearsome technique and a whole lot of angst. It switches between tortuously convoluted solos – writhe, rail, writhe, rail – and a kind of militarised anguish (more writhing, now in strict formation). The piece went down a storm, but I found it all effect and no substance. It also gave me a sense of déjà vu. Afterwards, I found that I had written about another Arnott piece in Resolution 2011, and uncannily, that review applies almost verbatim to this year’s 24.