For at least a decade, street dance has permeated contemporary dance as much as jazz dance did in the 1980s, whether as the go-to idiom for a generation, a physical technique, an artistic resource, or simply a look. BDblaq Dance’s Cool Breeze is purportedly set in an 80s pub, but apart from jumpsuits, braces, a glimpse of cigarette and a hanging placard that spells out “80s vibe”, the piece is all 21st century, right down to the street dance style and the hipster bar that forms its backdrop. There’s a story of sorts, four characters out for a night on the tiles, two women flirting with each other, two men acting up. But mainly it’s a lightweight but fun excuse for everyone to shine and show off a little, full of sleek moves, snappy formations and buoyant energy. Ah, youth.
Viki Čerček’s LEADS: Nature vs Culture also draws on street dance, but moulds it into a more personal, exploratory medium. Driven by live music from clarinettist William Legares playing to a recorded jazz score – a freewheeling rush of runs and squeals, jumpy riffs and rattling rhythms – Čerček, Sasha Shadid and Elsabet Yonas transfigure the jolting dynamics of krump into an affecting trio of fractious interactions: clasps and catches, scrabbles and freezes. It doesn’t quite sustain its own length, but this is nevertheless a fascinating extension of a particular style.
Sandwiched between these street-influenced pieces, Wilhelmina Ojanen’s common ground has a more familiar “contemporary dance” feel, drawing on natural movement, task-based ideas and improvisation techniques. Essentially a compositional study of group dynamics, the choreography sets four dancers adrift across the stage and allows different interactions to form: here a sense of impediment, one dancer blocked and grounded by the others; there of assistance, the performers gently guiding each other forward, or using their bodies as bridges; elsewhere of clinging together, hands grasping hands as the dancers are flung into unstable spirals. It’s a slow build, but in the end achieves an eerie poetry.