Saturday, 18 June 2016

REVIEW: BA2 Historical Project 2016

Fri 10 Jun
Trinity Laban
BA2 Historical Project
Merce Cunningham Trinity Laban MinEvents 5, 6, 7 & 8 
Yvonne Rainer "Diagonal" from Terrain 
Twyla Tharp The One Hundreds
Wayne McGregor Studio Wayne McGregor's FAR (excerpt)
Matthew Bourne Highland Fling (excerpt - Act 2)

Inviting five pioneering contemporary choreographers to work with Trinity Laban's undergraduate dance students, the BA2 Historical Project highlights the significant contributions made to contemporary dance in the last century by Merce Cunningham, Yvonne Rainer, Twyla Tharp, Wayne McGregor and Matthew Bourne. While the works boast some of the most renowned contemporary dance artists, the choreography also showcases the quality and distinction of Laban's second year dance students.

MinEvents, arranged by Daniel Squire, is (quite literally) a short series of events from Cunningham works including Suite for Five in Space and Time (1956), Summerspace (1958), and Changing Steps (1973). Slipping seamlessly from parallel to turn-out, the dancers execute Cunningham's long clean arm lines and quick shifts of weight with careful precision. Musicians arranged behind the dancers blow breathy notes through instruments and squeeze slowly deflating balloons, reminding us of John Cage's important musical contributions to contemporary dance. Above all else, it is the focus and discipline that is revealed in MinEvents.

Dancers Jordan McGowan and Mayowa Ogunnaike in Studio Wayne McGregor's FAR (photo credit: Lidia Crisafulli)

Charming works, Diagonal and The One Hundreds, choreographed by Yvonne Rainer and Twyla Tharp, showcase the simplicity and 'randomness' of dance improvisation. Rainer's Diagonal sees a group of dancers clad in casual trousers and trainers walking, running and jumping across the four diagonals of the bare stage. Dancers call out movement sequences by corresponding numbers and letters. Thus each performance is different, depending on the order and frequency of the sequences called out. Simple walking is coupled with comical and over-exaggerated striding. The One Hundreds, as described by Tharp is 'a hundred eleven-second segments separated by four seconds between segments, performed by two dancers in unison'. Loose-hipped and relaxed, the dancers slide between cool casualness to bold and cheeky in their short twenty second phrases. As they fall out of each segment, the dancers carry a charming rehearsal-style nonchalance. 

Studio Wayne McGregor's FAR (photo credit: Lidia Crisafulli)

Wayne McGregor's FAR is a profoundly intense exploration of the controversial Age of Enlightenment. Opening with a supple and sensual duet between Jordan McGowan and Mayowa Ogunnaike set in the dark, orange-lit stage, FAR is captivating from the outset. McGowan and Ogunnaike's limbs tangle with every fleshy embellishment. Their bodies roll in voluptuous waves as the score ebbs and flows. Suddenly the tone changes as a mass of dancers enter. Ben Frost's haunting score rumbles, with its pounding electrical percussion. We enter a bleak and shadowy landscape of visceral rolling shoulders and rippling spines. Twitching, fighting and slithering dominates the space. FAR, with its animalistic choreography and harsh tone highlights the versatility of Laban's dancers. 

Matthew Bourne's Highland Fling (photo credit: Lidia Crisafulli)

Finally, Matthew Bourne closed the night on a high with Highland Fling, a 'romantic wee ballet' based on the classic La Sylphide. The short excerpt sees James, played by charismatic dancer Cameron Williams-Everitt, falling in love with an ethereal Sylph, danced by Georgina Turner-Daerden. Dressed in a red kilt and white shirt, Williams-Everitt wanders unknowingly around the stage, stumbling over and bumping into the ghoulish sirens. The stage, dimly lit and scattered with dustbins and a large leather armchair, creates Bourne's dark backdrop of Glasgow's mean streets. James and his beautiful Sylph giggle in excitement as they rush off stage, only to return seconds later, panting and swooning. A clever combination of gorgeous balletic lines and group structures with Bourne's modern and playful twist, makes for a magical ending to the evening.

Maya Pindar