There’s three women, two chairs and one lamp on a rug. One of the women fiddles with a switch, another picks at the carpet. Offstage sounds (cat yowl, door knock) and easy-on-the-ear songs galvanise them into distracted action: bops, gesticulations, a coffee-percolator impersonation. In turn, each strays from this domestic space into outside solos, the first all swoops and arcs (freedom at last), the second flighty and indecisive, the last a flop-haired trance. Caldonia Walton’s Living… in the Living Room is accessible and clear – almost to the point of becoming formulaic. You can all but hear the eights being counted.
There’s no dancing in Sofie Burgoyne’s Dancing together apart/Dancing apart together. No performers, really. Just an empty stage, and Burgoyne seated among us. This is less a piece than a guided visualisation: everything happens in our heads. Burgoyne is good at getting us there: two assistants draw an imaginary “blanket” over us, and then it’s just darkness and her voice – first soft, then more sing-songy – conjuring up a curtain, a waterfall, a surreal body with splitting limbs. We sit in the dark, engulfed by a rising tide of sound, our experiences unknowably different; yet connected. I got easily into its headspace; once there, I felt it could easily be more adventurous with its story.
any semblance of viscera or involuntary reflex is transmuted into clarity and structure
Julie Cunningham has danced with both Merce Cunningham (no relation) and Michael Clark. Those bloodlines are clear in her quartet Guts, a stylised, highly technical composition (gawp at those arabesques and planted stances, those tilts and hinges) that begins with Merce-style animal abstraction – bird-like pivots, inquisitive crouches, mermaid reclines – and ends with a Clarkish ballet of stiff springs and controlled pitches, to deadpan rap music. Derivative, maybe; but mesmerising. While “guts” may have provided the source ideas, any semblance of viscera or involuntary reflex is transmuted into clarity and structure: clusterings, chain-reactions, the passage of material from one place to another, accompanied by noises reminiscent of burps and gurgles. Guts is clean, highly ordered, and mysteriously beautiful.