Print Room at the Coronet
Reviewed – 21st November 2017
“Each phrase is carefully considered for how his body moves and how the light falls to accentuate the movement”
When entering the auditorium for Waves, you are greeted by the gentle sounds of a sitar and tabla (a type of classical Indian drum) being played by musicians sat either side of the dimly lit stage. Individual spotlights shine on the musicians, with a third reserved in the centre of the stage for a rope hanging eerily above. The sounds of the instruments reverberate beautifully around the small, circular stalls and a light haze creates a rippling effect as it passes through the lights.
This mystical scene is set for Rasa, performed by aerialist Gisele Edwards. Edwards ascends the rope so nimbly and steadily that at times it looks as if she is being drawn up by some spirit, rather than her own strength. The piece is layered with beautiful extensions and suspensions, but peaks when she starts to writhe erratically at the top of the rope. The drumming becomes increasingly unsettling until Edwards lets go from her inverted position for a death drop, falling to mere inches off the floor. The piece is captivating, with Edwards and her accompanists (Clem Alford, Sitar and Sirishkumar Manji, Tabla) singing and speaking intermittently throughout, to pay homage to India’s philosophy and religion.
The second piece in this evening of new dance, is S/He. Choreographed and performed by Kirill Burlov with Emma Farnell-Watson. It is billed as ‘exploring the ways in which gender roles are shifting and being dismantled’. The first of three distinct sections sees Burlov drag Farnell-Watson, dressed in a corset and hooped skirt, limply onto the stage to what sounded like a 1930s cabaret tune. After spending some time posing her as he pleases, the music flips to a minimal, electronic bass as Farnell-Watson is awakened, only to have Burlov then change into the same clothes as her as if to portray that man and woman are now equal. The choreography felt uninspired and Burlov’s continued hogging of the spotlight jarred with the supposed message of the piece. Things got weirder when the mood switched again, with Farnell-Watson folded in half, face covered by her skirt and kicking her legs around whilst Burlov skipped around the stage. Both dancers are evidently technically talented, unfortunately S/He’s lack of a cohesive theme let them down.
Waves finished with the strongest piece of the night, Duende with Dickson Mbi. Having choreographed, devised the lighting concept and edited the music, Mbi’s connection with the piece is tangible. Each phrase is carefully considered for how his body moves and how the light falls to accentuate the movement; there was a moment when just the sinews in his shoulder rippled to the music. Mbi’s presence commands the stage but can at times be hauntingly tender. Duende is an embodiment of the spirit of dance and Mbi performs it with an intensity that flows right to the tips of his fingers. Duende received the nights only standing ovation which was rightly deserved.
Waves had it’s crests and falls, but the highs were definitely worth the ride.
Reviewed by Amber Woodward
is at Print Room at the Coronet until 23rd November as part of the Coronet International Festival