Monday, December 9, 2013

DEPARTURES at The Riley Theatre, NSCD. 7th December 2013

O Maria
Performers Sabrina Ribes Bonet, Victoria de Silva and Joao Maio
Choreography Carlos Pons Guerra

O Maria was an impressive piece of dance theatre. Perhaps not the most subtle in its symbolism, nonetheless it rose far above the usual cultural stereotypes. Whether Seville under Franco's regime had really anything to do with the story or the fact that the sado-masochism was conspicuously in kid's gloves, what to me was most impressive was the way the show handled nudity and it's transgender leitmotif. The erotic narrative had both precision and panache especially in Sabrina Ribes Bonet performance. Victoria de Silva's character could have done with less hip swaying perhaps but her dancing had a bold aesthetic integrity and Joao Maio brought out flawlessly the comic aspect of the Male Mary.

I Entity
Performer Elisabetta d'Aloia
Choreography Riccardo Meneghini
I Entity begins well. A woman, a blond wig on her foot, stares at it like at another's face. A magic mirror, her alter ego perhaps? Questions and expectations arise. What does she see? How does she feel? What will she do? Soon however, trousers off, boots and the blond wig on, away she goes. What began so well theatrically unravels into a less than choreographed solo. Elisabetta d'Aloia is a dancer with a poetic presence that might need a stronger dramatic structure to come into her own.

Life is a Carnival
Performer and Choreography Moreno Solinas
Moreno Solinas is a young Olympian with a taste for the tragic, the offbeat and the surreal. The recipe may not have worked as expected on the night but the intention was clear. From the smallest of finger movements to the whole body as nature intended, Life is a Carnival was one consummate piece of method acting. The blend of Fado like singing and detailed, masterly controlled movement with just a hint of Buster Keaton mad-hatter daring created a spell binding dance narrative. Transparent without simplification, solemn and comic, Moreno's confident handling of the dramatic structure was dance theatre of the first order.

Performers Ruth Janssen and Riccardo Meneghini
Choreography Douglas Thorpe
Mad Dogs Dance Theatre
Ruth Janssen and Riccardo Meneghini are both experienced dancers but Missing landed far from its avowed aim. Admittedly, it was an ambitious undertaking. A couple's breakdown of intimacy after the loss of their child is often a closed circle of pain and hard to communicate. In this instance however, the choreography was vapid and too cliched to be emotionally engaging and the dried leaves underfoot as a natural symbol of death were more of an encumbrance than an integral part of the spectacle. The sense of ghostly emptiness that comes with the rustle of leaves in silence would have gone some way towards establishing a meaningful core of the piece on stage. Alas, Missing was an artistic challenge which needed far more of one's creative best thrown at it than I feel was the case on the night.

Abba, Pastries and the Stiff Upper Lip
Performers Rachel Fullegar, Sarah-Maria Cook, Rebecca Holmberg, Kate Cox.
Choreography Gracefool Collective
I admit I'm not a fan of dancers speaking, we do have actors for that, but the cabaret like Abba, Pastries and the Stiff Upper Lip was fun. The dolly dolls and the moustached narrator in laced culottes gave a confident account of their talents in this Benny Hill type sketch. Though as the basis of the dramatic narrative, the Englishman, the Swede and the Dane joke did not seem to resolve itself, the performances were accomplished and the choreography well defined and tight.