Wednesday, 21 June 2017

REVIEW: THE SPEECH - Lisi Estaras & Irene Russolillo

Fri 16 Jun
The Italian Cultural Institute

Intercontinental Drifts #1
Lisi Estaras & Irene Russolillo THE SPEECH

Curated by TripSpace, in partnership with The Place and The Italian Cultural Institute, Intercontinental Drifts presents engaging dance from national and international emerging dance artists. Beginning the first in the four part series of national and international contemporary choreography, Italian choreographer Irene Russolillo presents THE SPEECH. After her performance, Russolillo joined producer and programmer Betsy Gregory in a short and enlightening post-show Q&A.

Unlike other contemporary dance works, Russolillo created THE SPEECH in collaboration with another artist- Lisi Estaras, long-time collaborator of Alain Platel/ Les Ballets C de La B. As discussed in the post-show Q&A, choreographing in collaboration with another artist is rather unusual. But in its unusual-ness, unexpected discoveries are often made. For instance, as Russolilllo described, a new way of "fitting" a phrase onto a dancer's body, or a more daring accompaniment.

Russolillo begins slow, moving in fragmented steps. She wears a floaty romantic dress- something she apparently wouldn't normally do, another unusual result of creative collaboration. The emphasis is on language and communication; she stumbles and stutters, eventually uttering Carley Rae Jepson's lyrics "I threw my wish in the well". Switching between English and Italian, her Italian rolls off the tongue, tumbling effortlessly compared to her faltering English. 

Irene Russolillo in THE SPEECH (PC: Ilaria Costanzo)

Jarred movement, and a fragmented port de bras, is paired with operatic singing and tinny electronic sounds. There's a vulnerability and a sensuousness about her performance. Heavy- or even orgasmic- panting seems to work in an interesting opposition with feelings of panicked frustration. She sprays the front row with saliva, as her breathing becomes heavier and her stuttering more violent. While this proximity between performer and observer doesn't always sit well with audience members, Rusollilo is effective in breaking the fourth wall. She dissolves the safe division between us and her. We are intimately involved in her performance and connected to her journey.

Rusolillo and Estaras's various journeys seem to meet at a tributary. The broken lyrics, frustrated stuttering, and brief moments of singing culminate in Russolillo's full bodied dancing to Carley Rae Jepson's Call Me Maybe. From start to finish, Rusolillo is defiant and rebellious.

- Maya Pindar

Sunday, 21 May 2017

REVIEW: Bruce's Ghost Dances returns after 14 years to Rambert triple bill

Sat 20 May
Sadler's Wells
Aletta Collins - The days run away like wild horses
Didy Veldman - The 3 Dancers
Christopher Bruce - Ghost Dances

Rambert's triple bill promises the triumphant return of Ghost Dances, one of the company's most requested works, and triumphant it is. 

The evening features the premiere of Aletta Collins's The days run away like wild horses, which takes inspiration from 80's Oscar-winning director Zbigniew Rybczynski's animated film Tango. Interlacing repeating mundane snapshots of life, Collin's protagonist sitting in her house becomes crowded by her memories- a boy retrieving a lost football, a woman smacking her head mid-romp, a bored school girl doing homework. Designer Katrina Lindsay's colourful staging and vibrant costuming is reminiscent of some of Matthew Bourne's bright productions.

Ghost Dances is showing in Salford, Southampton, Norwich, Bath and Bradford in the upcoming months. See more here.

Didy Veldman's The 3 Dancers draws upon Picasso's painting The Three Dancers. Veldman ties cubism, love and pain into dance, with it's geometric set design and sharp, clean lines. The dancers knot their hands and arms, creating images of lusty and intertwined relations.

Finally, Bruce's moving Ghost Dances doesn't disappoint. It's known that Bruce handles socio-political issues with sharp precision. So, the revival of Bruce's protest to Pinochet's brutal regime in Chile and the systematic persecution of around 35000 civilians still feels relevant today. 

From the outset, the trio of masked ghouls, who stalk and glide, landing silently out of their muscular jumps, contrasts eerily to the folksy playfulness of the dead. Every tender duet, spirited antics of ordinary people and moments of yearning are interrupted by the slinking ghouls. Nicholas Mojsiejenko's haunting arrangement of traditional Andean folk music drifts off, replaced by the desolate sound of wind, as the ghouls lift their victims from the ground.

Having established himself as a politically vocal choreographer in the early 70s, Bruce's works are excellent examples of how art- and specifically dance- can and should, challenge politics. 

Maya Pindar

REVIEW: Kaleidoscopic Arts Platform

Fri 19 Mar
Wilditch Community Centre, Battersea
Kaleidoscopic Arts Platform
Jayne Port - Pibroch Tales
Helen Cox - double pendulum
Lucid Dance - Living With Sin
Feet off the Ground Dance - The Way They Were Then

Independent choreographers Lucia Schweigert and Konstantina Skalionta present the fourth Kaleidoscopic Arts Platform, featuring work from five emerging female artists in an evening of live dance, installation and post-show Q&A. Schweigert and Konstantina's interest in producing dance in unconventional spaces brings us to Wilditch Community Centre in Battersea. Alongside live dance performances, Elisabeth Schilling presents her exhibition STADKÖRPER; a collaborative project between a dancer and various photographers set in Berlin's architectural cityscape.

Opening the live dance, Jayne Port's Pibroch Tales sees the kilt-clad Gordon Douglas Raeburn mime his way through a series of extracts from the Kilberry book of Ceol Mor. As both presenter and performer, Douglas Raeburn acts out mundane scenes of fishing, a domestic disagreement, and an unlikely encounter between two men and a bear.

Helen Cox's double pendulum

Following the squeal of bagpipes, we are met by the sweeping arms and soft pulsing of Helen Cox's double pendulum. With vaguely Cunningham-esque clean lines and shifts of weight, double pendulum is a carefully constructed exploration of relationships. Dancers Helen Cox and Andrew Oliver orbit one another, threading their limbs through the space. The gentle swing and rebound twists the duo like two corkscrews, which then unravel, sending the pair back into orbit. A deeply satisfying work to watch, which could stand alone without explanation or notes.

Lucia Schweigert's dance film Living With Sin is brought to the stage. Challenging the affect Eve's original sin has on the experience of womanhood, dancer Kathy Richardson progresses through three stages of experience, identified by white, red and black costume. Opening in silence, Living With Sin is pensive with an intense feeling of internal struggle. Shedding her red and black costume, Richardson metaphorically sheds her sins, ending in her white slip dress returning to purity.

Lucia Schweigert's Living With Sin

Finally, the night ends with Feet off the Ground Dance's The Way They Were Then. As always, the collective hit the jackpot. Inspired by Mujeres, a collection of short stories, by left-wing Uraguayan writer Eduardo Geleano, illuminating both renowned and unknown women from around the world. The women rotate in centrifugal spins, as the live accompaniment intensifies, throwing them into their trademark fearless, full bodied and gravity defying contact improvisation. Absolutely every decision is executed with purpose and intention.

Feet off the Ground Dance's The Way They Were Then

Kaleidoscopic Arts Platform showcases exciting emerging female dance work. Regardless of whether you have an interest in contemporary dance or not, there is something to be found for everyone- especially if you're seeking art with a political agenda. Schweigert and Konstantina's decision to set these platforms in unconventional locations is just the twist that sets evenings such as these apart.

To find out more about Kaleidoscopic Arts Platforms, please head over to the website now!

Maya Pindar

Saturday, 25 March 2017

REVIEW: Tavaziva in Africarmen: compellingly seductive

Tue 21 Mar
Bernie Grant Arts Centre
Tavaziva - Africarmen

Tavaziva's Africarmen returns on tour this Spring. Beginning the evening at Bernie Grant Arts Centre, Zimbabwean-born Artistic Director, Bawren Tavaziva, and founding member of The Place, Namron OBE, is joined by Marie McCluskey OBE in a pre-show talk. Tavaziva discusses Zimbabwe's restricted freedom of speech and his and Namron's passion for youth work. Tavaziva and Namron's shared desire to pass on the inspiration they received as young men is particularly striking.

After two heart warming works with boys from north London, we dive head first into Tavaziva's sexy recreation of Bizet's infamous Carmen. Bawren's interpretation swaps the original setting of southern Spain for an African oil rigging village, alive with military corruption. The shadow of an almost-phallic rusting oil derrick looms threateningly on stage, a foreshadow of what's to come for our tragic love triangle.  

Dancers Lisa Rowley & Carmine De Amicis in Africarmen (PC: Dillon Rose)
Flexed wrists, percussive qualities and polyrhythms point towards Tavaziva's Zimbabwean roots and his training with Tumbuka Dance Company. Neatly tied up with contemporary and ballet, Tavaziva fuses his Zimbabwean heritage in Africarmen, to comment on political and challenging themes- many of which cannot be spoken of in Zimbabwe. 

The pace is unforgivingly fast; each act brims with energy, the tension builds a notch higher with each change of scene. Rolling hips, undulating spines and Composer Fayyaz Virji's throbbing score make for a very very sexy Africarmen.

Dancers Theo Samsworth & Lisa Rowley in Africarmen (PC: Manoj Nair)
The cast of Africarmen (PC: Joseph Bisat Marshall)

Tavaziva's dancers carry the choreography with strength. Carmen, danced by Lisa Rowley, is seductive and powerful. Her presence consumes the stage, as she sinks into deep lunges and plunges into bottomless second pliés, indulging in the gentle fall and rise. Equally, Theo Samsworth, dancing Mhondiwa (Tavaziva's lascivious answer to Don José), is compelling and tempting in his delivery.

We follow Carmen exchange one man for another, slipping between her desire for love and lust, until her story comes to its destructive end. Africarmen is an explosion of pulsing sensuality and energy- the strong cast do not hold back in their attack. While there is room for a tighter fusion of styles, Africarmen is breathtakingly exciting.

Maya Pindar

Read Maya's interview with Bawren Tavaziva here.
Africarmen is showing next in Poole, Ipswich and Bath. Visit Tavaziva's website for full dates and tickets.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

BOOK REVIEW: With Ballet In My Soul - an Autobiography by Eva Maze

With Ballet in My Soul: Adventures of a Globetrotting Impresario is set to be released this spring, published by Moonstone Press LLC
Hailing from Romania, Eva Maze's story begins in Bucharest 1922. After a brief battle with scarlet fever, Maze knew from the outset that she would unlikely become a ballerina. But her affection for dance didn't disappear with her dreams of dancing. Following the rise of fascism in Romania, Maze's family made their first move- to America.  

From here, we travel to New York, London, New Delhi, Frankfurt, Berlin, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Munich, Corfu, Paris and finally, Florida.  

Maze recollects amusing anecdotes, weaving intimate details about herself and her family into the narrative. Halfway through the memoir it feels as though I'm sat down, talking to Maze myself- there is something personal and honest about With Ballet In My Soul.

The autobiography steers us through pivotal historical moments, including the aftermath of World War II, Indian independence, the building of the Berlin Wall, the Greek Military Junta and the rise and fall of Pan American World Airways. Maze's depiction of these events, through the lens of her pursuits, brings her story to life. 

With Ballet In My Soul: Adventures of a Globetrotting Impresario by Eva Maze

Maze's long and illustrious career as a producer is distinguished by her affiliations with diverse artists such as Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, José Limón Dance Company, Kathakali Dance Theatre and Kabuki Theatre of Japan, to name a few. The changing cultures of each country Maze has traveled to seems to have inspired much of her work. However, towards the close of the autobiography, Maze explains that moving from place to place can feel like a curse:
Because your identity is often put into question. [...] There are times when you feel you belong both everywhere and nowhere at the same time. [...] You find yourself wondering who you are. [...] Many of us still continue to struggle with where we do, in fact, belong.
In addition to Maze's evident strength in coordinating successful productions, her ability to embrace diversity and variety in her work is striking. Maze lived through a time of significant political and social change; a time which saw great changes in the arts. It seems that Maze's experiences of different cultures and societies shaped her both personally and professionally.

For more information, please visit Moonstone Press LLC

Saturday, 18 February 2017

INTERVIEW: Bawren Tavaziva on Africarmen

This week I met Bawren Tavaziva, Artistic Director and founder of Tavaziva dance company, to discuss the company's latest work Africarmen, Bawren's interpretation of the classic Carmen story. 

Tavaziva have become the new neighbours of bbodance, after their recent office move to South West London. With the company rehearsing in the studios at bbodance, it was the perfect opportunity to sit down with Bawren and discuss his ambitions and inspirations.

Maya Pindar: tell us a bit about yourself

Bawren Tavaziva: I am originally from Zimbabwe. Since I was 8, my ambition was to have my own dance company. I worked with Tumbuka Dance Company in Zimbabwe, where I danced for about 4 or 5 years. I was inspired by Tumbuka's director, Neville Campbell, who is also the former director of Phoenix Dance Company. He was an amazing choreographer! It was him who inspired me to join Phoenix. 

I sold everything that I had back home, and bought myself a ticket to England. I auditioned for Phoenix, but didn't get the job. I wasn't strong enough technically. So I started working with other smaller companies, and kept going back to audition. And then under the direction of Thea Barnes, I got the job at Phoenix! From there, I danced with Phoenix for just under two years.

Bawren Tavaziva, PC: DILLONROSE

MP: what challenges were you faced with when you left Zimbabwe to pursue your dance career in the UK?

BT: the challenge was visas. I was on a holiday maker visa, so you were only allowed to work in restaurants and pubs- you weren't allowed to pursue your career. So that was a very difficult time for about two years for me. 

MP: can you tell us one interesting fact about you?

BT: one interesting fact about me? My ambition! I didn't realise that for some people it's very difficult to find or follow ambition. But I already had my ambition so I didn't have to work hard to find it or follow it. 

MP: what inspires you to recreate Carmen?

TB: my inspiration came from watching Swedish choreographer Mats Ek's version of Carmen. That sparked something for me- I loved the idea of creating my own African version. The percussion and energy had a lot in common to African (or specifically Zimbabwean) culture.

MP: can you tell us a bit about your choreographic process?

BT: I always create my work with something that I really feel. I tend to bring out the truth about the work. I can't just create work for the sake of it. It has to have feeling, I want my audience to feel a certain way. It is usually based on stories, but it's abstract.

Africarmen, PC: Manoj Nair

MP: what have you enjoyed the most about working on Africarmen?

BT: it was a challenge! I have approached it very differently this time. For instance, usually I compose my own music, but this time we are collaborating with different artists and musicians. So it's been so much fun. I'm also working with Neville Campbell, who is helping take my choreography further and make it clearer. 

MP: to wrap up, what piece of advice would you give 15 year old Bawren?

BT: work hard, get to work on time, get to school on time. Discipline yourself. Try to have your own self motivation. It's hard to always be motivated by someone else all the time. Get to the studio, and use it.

Africarmen begins it's spring tour in March. For full dates and detail visit Tavaziva's website.
Stay tuned for a full review of Africarmen at the end of March!

Sunday, 5 February 2017

REVIEW: Dillon Dance returns to Resolution! 2017 with We Stand Alone Together

Sat 4 Feb
The Place
Dillon Dance - We Stand Alone Together

It's not often that a work of dance hits the spot as well as Dillon Dance's We Stand Alone Together. With its dark staging, percussive score and rich choreography, We Stand Alone Together thrusts us into the depths of a personal struggle. 

The work begins carefully, with dancer Charlotte Hannah stepping out of the silent darkness. She stares forward, her hands and arms trembling, motioning as if trying to wrench at her stomach. All the while there's a sense of intimate self awareness. From the outset, choreographer Shaun Dillon's exploration of darkness, desperation and loneliness is striking.

Dancer Emily Robinson in rehearsal with Dillon Dance, PC: Alice Underwood Films

From here, composer Jennifer Whittaker's percussive score swells and rumbles. The group of women sweep across the space, their bodies throbbing and wavering. These sumptuous moments of unison are punctured as a dancer falls out of line. Dancer Emily Robinson finds herself suddenly alone, she lingers on a thought and then throws herself back into movement. She tries and tries again, there's a familiar sense of relentless desperation.  

Dancer Charlotte Hannah in rehearsal with Dillon Dance, PC: Alice Underwood Films

Later, another dancer stumbles into the darkness. This time she truly is alone. The realisation hits- it's happening again- and she shatters into screams. While delving into the pain of individual struggle, Dillon simultaneously examines the strength of unity. A reassuring hand is placed on a shoulder and a lone dancer is swept up by the group. The dancers have army-like precision in their use of unison. There is no doubt that they have strength in their unity.

Dillon expertly builds up tension alongside Whittaker's unyielding score. There is a real feeling of agitation and restlessness that seems to stem from a deep-seated sense of frustration. The tension erupts as the group dive into a full bodied sequence, which throws them through the floor and across the space, peeling off into canon and then slipping back into the group. 

Dillon Dance in rehearsal, PC: Alice Underwood Films

Dillon's choreography is bold and uncompromising. Every decision appears carefully considered, a testament to Dillon's attention to detail. Above all, honesty shines through the choreography. There are no clichés, nothing is skimmed over, and no loose ends are left hanging. Dillon is definitely a choreographer to keep watching in the future.

Interested in Shaun Dillon's work? Check out Shaun's interview with The Insanity in Dancing here.
Resolution! 2017 continues until 25 February at The Place, for more information visit: Maya wrote for Resolution! Review 2016, want to see last year's articles? Click here for more!