The #metoo movement made connections not only between different incidents of sexual harassment, but between the women experiencing them. For every individual story, others would answer: me too. Willow Vidal-Hall’s She Holds Me Up is rooted in that lived reality. She recounts being stalked one night, finding safety through a passing stranger who, being a woman, instinctively understood the situation. The tale is hers, but joining her on stage is Gabbie Cook – #shetoo, if you like – and together they enter into aerial duets on a rope and pole. The psycho-physics are wonderfully suggestive of rising up through trust, exploration, strength, care and support, but the choreography itself is underdeveloped. The message is powerful, the medium less so.
Amy Morvell’s Turtle Dove, a duet with Joe Darby, is about romantic love. Its first dance parped my cliché klaxon: beautifully done, but pretty normatively gendered in terms of partnering, and ending with him gifting her a red balloon covered in hearts. Soon I was disarmed. To voiceovers from people of different genders, ages and sexual orientations, the dancers take up different roles until they seem unbound from their own bodies, instead channelling love itself. “Love itself” becomes rather a practical matter: responding to another, keeping connection, accepting difference. It appears in a memory recalled, in a shiver of anticipation, in energy and in space (“I’m very up and down, he’s more level”). Lovely but not laboured, Turtle Dove is genuinely heart-warming.
Unusually for emerging choreographers, Emily Robinson’s Leave me one is a group piece, about group relations. Her five dancers walk and weave, checking each other and checking themselves, in a kind of fluid social web. Various forms merge and melt: a ring around a centrepoint, individuals set against clusters, actions in step and out of line. It’s full of interest and promise but it does runs out of steam, in the end relying more on the rhythmic swells of its score than on its own ideas.