The last night of the Resolution 2020 festival of new choreography features a triple bill, with dance duo SYNTREX performing some silver burns to live music, and Vasiliki Papapostolou combining written performance with dance in Free Is The Possessed. The last piece, Dani Harris-Walters’ Happy Father’s Day, is not actually new choreography, but a repeat from last year, as an unexpected gap in the programme had to be filled due to the original performer getting injured.
Photo credit: SYNTREX
some silver burns features two dancers moving to live violin music which is mixed on-stage, creating a perfect soundtrack for a piece that is all about the entanglement of the organic and the human, with the synthetic and the robotic. The two dancers, clad in black, move in and out of unison as they combine large, sweeping movements emphasising the limbs and wild facial expressions, with intricate, robotic and glitching body popping. These juxtapositions of opposites feature throughout the work, with the dancers going from catching and embracing each other in a seemingly sensual touch, to struggle within mere seconds.
In Free Is The Possessed, we are greeted by a performer standing in the middle of the stage, communicating with the audience through texts on a phone screen, which is projected onto the wall behind. For about half of the performance, the figure is static, before floating across the stage through beautifully executed footwork, and later shifting to wild, rhythmic, circular movements. The principal dancer leaves the stage at various points, only to be replaced by a dancer clad in formal attire and sporting a balloon for a head. Said balloon-headed dancer remains mostly in one place, making slow, pulsating movements - much like jellyfish floating in the sea.
Photo credit: Vasiliki Papapostolou
The piece calls into question the line between reality and fiction, and comments on the narrativization of contemporary life - at least, that's the impression I got - it feels slightly incomprehensible at times, with various aspects remaining unexplained, or seeming disconnected, combined with sweeping statements about life, death, and the self made without a lot of context. Still, the technical skill of the dancers and the beautifully mesmerising choreography make this piece lovely to look at, even if its message is very much left up to the audience.
Happy Father’s Day is a one-man piece that combines comedy with breakdance, telling the story of a sperm cell moving towards conception. Various parts of the body are personified, and the audience are directly addressed as a potential romantic interest. With props kept to a minimum, most of the journey is depicted through the light plan, which uses a variety of colours and sharp cutoffs to symbolise the body: the parts of the reproductive system that the sperm cell travels through - from testes to ejaculation - are depicted by brightly-coloured squares, while the arrival at the ovum is signalled with a bright white spotlight on the centre of the stage. Occasionally the piece feels a bit like you’re watching a "cool" version of Sex Ed, attempting to appeal to young audiences who would rather die than hear their teacher say the word "vagina". However, Harris-Walters’ performance style is so enthusiastic and infectious that you can’t help but go along with it. You would never have thought that an audience of adults would find the punchline ‘P is for...penis!’ so amusing.
Photo credit: Dani Harris-Walters
While all three pieces have their own artistic merit, some silver burns is the most thematically and aesthetically coherent, as well as being the most physically exhausting for the dancers. In terms of programming and pacing, it might have been better placed towards the end of the night, with the other two pieces acting as a more mellow lead-up. On the whole, the three pieces fit well together, exactly because they are very different from one another, in terms of thematics, pace, visuals, and general performance style. The audience never loses its concentration, and there are parts to be enjoyed for everyone.