Three men sit on chairs. Behind them, three others are incarcerated within cells of light. Yet M(inD) – Inside the Mind, by hip hop dance company Flo, goes on to blur such easy distinctions between guard and prisoner. At first the guards are impassive while the prisoners rattle and shadow-box, to voiceovers about feelings of worthlessness. By the end, through breakouts, combative solos and duets, the men seem almost interchangeable, equally isolated and antagonistic. The krump-derived style, melding outburst with restraint, proves effective for the emotional dynamics, but the choreography feels constrained by familiar solo and battling formats.
A lamp glows like a distant sun. Behind a translucent screen, Monique Jonas, Ihsaan De Banya and Imogen Alvares appear as shadows. They emerge into a warm haze that keeps fading them in and out of focus. It’s a beautifully atmospheric staging for Jonas’s subtly biting Toh-Kuhn, which plays on the ambiguities between being seen as a figure and being recognised as a person, specifically in relation to race and nation. A Windrush calypso (“London is the place for me”) signals a kind of home for these multiracial dancers (London, The Place), who later speak of being asked the perennial questions where are you from? and do you go back? The choreography plays out as a series of mixed reactions, first between the dancers as they slip over and around each other, as if the questions keep missing their target; then, more emphatically, addressed towards us.
Lewis Major’s Epilogue is about art and beauty. On a powdered floor, Pascal Morty stands in contrapposto like a Renaissance statue, his bare body chalked white. To Debussy’s limpid Clair de lune, he artfully composes himself: stretched leg balancing curved arm, head inclined, powder clouding into luminous haloes. As the music is electronically resampled, something seems to disturb him: he’s floored and splayed and questing, spiralling and skidding on the powder. But this is dissonance, not discord: never not beautiful, always artful. Clair de lune returns and Morty finishes square on, perfectly symmetrical. It’s like starting with Michelangelo and ending with Da Vinci.