Within Her Eyes, created in 2012, was the first professional work by the then 23-year-old James Cousins. Subsequently made into a film and taken into the GCSE syllabus, it has become something of a reference point for Cousins. Epilogues, his new evening of dance, takes the piece as its point of departure.
You can see why it made a mark: it has a singularity of focus, economy of means and an emotional reach borne of restraint rather than expression. Buttoned-up Chihiro Kawasaki drops dramatically from a high window of light. A side light catches her again, now supported by a shadowy figure (Rhys Dennis). For the remainder of the duet her feet never once touch the ground as she folds, spirals and pitches, with Dennis as her pliant anchor. It looks like aerial swimming, but with no sense of floating or flight. And it feels like a submersion into a self that thrums with the plaintive notes and quickening shudders of the soundtrack.
Within Her Eyes is a particular angle on a form that is deeply familiar, from ballet to ballroom: a male-female duet with the woman both as emotional subject and visual object, the man as support and frame. The two new duets on this programme, one male, one female, serve as counterpoints. In Between Us Is Me begins like a brooding take on capoeira, Dennis and Georges Hann tracking but not touching each other, coiling around and reaching through the spaces the other creates. When the two men do make contact, the movement morphs into joshing, then into solo struggles and rattling rhythms. The Secret of Having It All sees Jemima Brown and George Frampton as curiously android sisters, performing a double act in which you discern the fractured lineaments of an entertainment number: a glimpse of soft-shoe shuffle, open-armed flourishes, slinky walks, cuts and chases.
Though well performed and produced, both these duets currently feel stretched thin, too often undercut by musical and theatrical non-sequiturs, and leaning on sound and light for mood and effect. Cousins has some large and intriguing ideas in his sights, but the material has not yet coalesced into the means to reach them.