The handshake is the most regular-guyish of greetings and yet – men holding hands? Fraught with peril. It’s an issue that exercises the three regular guys of Barely Methodical Dance Troupe, who open their piece Bromance by testing out various handshakes for sincerity or appropriateness. This intriguing beginning soon gives way to more spectacular ways of holding each other, such as launching each other into the air, or catching each other, inches from the ground, from vertiginous, twisting somersaults. Fraught with peril indeed – though without the psychological undercurrents of the opening. No matter – this gripping slice of mano a mano action is not just virtuosically acrobatic but also rather sweet. Sure, little Beren D’Amico and Charlie Wheeler can hoist big bro Louis Gift aloft to show that he ain’t heavy, but they’re mighty glad to put him down, because actually, he is.
a gripping slice of mano a mano action that is not just virtuoso but also rather sweet
Next, it’s time for the women. Klaudia Wittmann’s Cameleon is based on ideas of femininity – the five women adopt statuesque poses or make make-up gestures – but you sense that it’s the physicality that interests her more than the ideas: there are lots of full-bodied kicks and rolls, flops and flails, all marshalled into fairly conventional choreographic phrasings. The piece certainly drums up feelings of almost Amazonian force and maenad display, but it also hurtles headlong through its material, running over its own premises rather than digging into them.
A little rushing, or perhaps shortening, would shine up TrashDolly Dance Theatre’s Walter. Alex Rowland is the protagonist (“Walter”, presumably), a drab-suited ordinary guy who is led into a looking-glass world by alter ego Sam Amos (let’s call him “Mitty”), a hipster in a brown suede jacket whose every spivvy step is backed by moochy saxophones or gritty guitars. The atmospherics are noirish and once again the physicality is impressive. It’s fine that the idea – an uncool guy becomes a cool one – is lightweight; less cool that it’s stretched so thin.