“the emotion and beauty with which Maliphant and Fouras dance, and create, together is truly stunning”
Maliphantworks3 opens with movement and light and sound, the three key ingredients of choreographer Russell Maliphant’s work. He is joined onstage by Dana Fouras, and together they investigate the relationship of these three components through a three-part evening of dance.
‘The Space Between’, our first act, begins as two dancers (Maliphant and Fouras) rise up from the floor, their facial features made indistinguishable by the patterns of animated light rippling across the stage, crawling up the walls. The piece was made in collaboration with video artist Panagiotis Tomaras, a collaboration which pushes even further the possibilities of light and shape to transform a space and the people who move within it. Maliphant and Tomaras designed the lighting together. Each section of the dance is marked by a change in light and a change in music (sound design by Fouras). In one, Maliphant dances solo, rising and falling, following light that forms like cells across the floor. In another the two dancers are visible alternately, each contained in separate squares of light that strobe faster and faster. Sometimes the sound design is so loud we can’t hear them move across the floor. Sometimes the sound design is so quiet we can hear the dancers breathe. Following their solos, the two dancers come together again for a finale duet, a beautiful moment of union.
The second part of the evening is two short films. Both films, which premiere tonight, have been created in collaboration with photographer Julian Broad. Dana Fouras dances in the first, a single figure swathed in material that means the silhouette of her body is continually changing as she moves. The second film is another solo piece, this time featuring Maliphant, who dances within a hanging orange elastic like he is testing gravity. This film is made up of many different shots, the light changing from one to the next, white then blue then grey.
The final part of our evening is once again live. A pulsing light transforms into an orange backlight that makes the dancers look close to silhouetted. A pulsing beat transforms into a light, fast strumming. In contrast to the speed of the music, the dancers’ move with a mesmerising slowness here, and there is an intense intimacy in the way they move with each other, around each other, over and under each other. This intimacy makes for a deeply moving performance, a fitting end to this triple bill of dance. This work, entitled ‘Duet’ returns to the stage after its success in Maliphantsworks2 in 2018.
Maliphantworks3 is a beautiful evening of dance, that redefines the relationship of movement with light and with sound. With an emphasis on duets in the programme, the emotion and beauty with which Maliphant and Fouras dance, and create, together is truly stunning.
I have often thought that the Coronet Theatre in London’s Notting Hill is London’s sister to Peter Brook’s Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris. With its distressed grandeur and peeling walls it echoes with the ghosts of a lost age of theatre. The over-used modernism ‘shabby chic’ is too twee a description for the Coronet. It is steeped in antiquity and authenticity, each imperfection bearing the beautiful scars of over a hundred years of history. This makes it the perfect setting for Aurélia Thierrée’s new show, “Bells and Spells”. Directed by Victoria Thierrée Chaplin, it returns to the theatre following its work in progress sharing during the Coronet International Festival in 2017.
“Bells and Spells” is a dreamlike odyssey that whisks you through a world that has a mind of its own. It is recommended that you leave your own mind at the door as you enter, and rely on the skewed logic of dreams. That way you’ll accept the absurdity as completely valid. There is no place for reason as Thierrée vanishes into a revolving door or disappears into an armchair. Heads levitate from their bodies; limbs crawl out of paintings. Thierrée is a whisp of beauty as she dances and weaves herself through the fantasy; as light as Aerial. And light-fingered too. The narrative, if one can be perceived, depicts her as an unabashed, incurable kleptomaniac. She steals silverware, ballgowns, exhibits and paintings, and as she does so she steals herself into our hearts.
There is no place for logic, and it dawns on us that the objects seem to want to be stolen, and Thierrée herself is victim to their surreal intentions. They are in control. Furniture moves across the stage, hat stands walk and move with balletic precision, dresses dance, walls open up revealing dancers. It is in the choreography that her circus and dance background truly comes to the fore. From an early start Thierrée was recruited into her parents’ (Victoria and Jean-Baptiste Thierrée) wandering troupe ‘Le Cirque Imaginaire’. One of her early memories is of playing a walking suitcase, soon graduating to a chest of drawers. These debuts obviously informed her future, eclectic career which has covered dance, cabaret, circus, film and magic. In “Bells and Spells”, with dance partner Jaime Martinez, tango merges with ballet to hypnotic effect, and in its dreamlike way the scenery joins in the dance.
An ensemble cast intermittently appear from the wings, like shadows that creep out of the recesses of a hallucinating mind. A pirouetting man in black wears an upturned chair on his head, or another is engulfed in a swathe of fabric to be disgorged in completely different costume. Thierrée herself disappears into thin air from behind a cascading sheet of washing linen. Seamlessly set, props, costume and cast ebb and flow in unison. The show is bookended by a scene in a waiting room. The patients (are they patients? Who are they waiting for?) are silent, and as they slowly leave one by one it is the chairs themselves who chatter like phantom tell-tales.
We wonder if we are about to wake from the mirage of illusive images when the curtain call signals the end of the journey and we are back in our seats. But the spell refuses to be broken. The flaking walls of the auditorium remind us of the old-fashioned authenticity of what we have just seen. We are in the land of smoke and mirrors and sleight of hand. No technical wizardry, just a marriage of the human mind, imagination, spirit and physicality. This is where the true magic of theatre lies.