In the beautiful setting of the Actors Church in Covent Garden, I seated myself second row from the front and anticipated the performance ahead – a platform of emerging dance artists, ready to excite me with their fresh and inspiring approach to choreography, just like those of the Judson Church in the 1960’s……or so I thought.
Exquisite Corpse Dance Theatre opened the show, with an ambitious piece that for me lacked identity, which made it hard for the audience to relate to the choreography. With confusing motifs and far too many crotch shots, any cohesion that actually existed in Roma swiftly vanished. It’s unfortunate because the dancers had undeniable skill, and I think their talent was overshadowed by the recurring dodgy angles coinciding with the tiniest pants ever – trust me, everyone was rooting for an eyeful rather than being impressed with their flexibility. Choreographer Anthony Lo-Giudice should give his girls a little modesty so people can focus on their dancing. The second piece from Diciembre Dance Group was the complete antithesis. Dressed head to toe in outfits resembling a Victorian fairytale, to describe this piece as dated is an understatement. Based on a strange theme of a Lewis Carroll poem, Lewis After Wonderland attempted to explore ‘Alice as a metaphor of childhood’ and ‘an idea that haunts him.’ But there was no haunting atmosphere in this pas de deux, just the impression of a ballet exam with posh frocks. For me it was far too literal and behind the times to be involved in this contemporary dance platform.
Room performed by Beyond Repair Dance is the most original production so far. The concise, minimal movements performed in exact unison created a feeling of suspense that appeared from nowhere. Although the piece is simple and quite repetitive, I would rather describe it as unpretentious, and the intricacy of the choreography makes it interesting to watch. After a few technical glitches, A.D. Dance Company present Fawn, inspired my Mozart’s requiem. Four duets perform movement reminiscent of NDT and Lalala Human Steps, in which the female is central to the choreography, and the male just lifts her around in different positions like you would expect to see in a ballet. As in the opening piece, the dancers were incredible but the choreography didn’t live up to them. It was predictable, didn’t have any real dynamic changes and felt rather long.
The only solo of the night, Patriot finally blew away the convention that seemed to surround this platform. Choreographed by James Finnemore, it was original, modest, and the movement actually felt real and purposeful as opposed to being about virtuosity. Erik Lobelius completely invested in his performance, and this is what made it mesmerising. Now, I thought, it feels like the Judson Chruch. Stewart Kennedy Dance Company closed the evening with No Tomorrow, which was also in a league of its own. With more of a release/physical theatre style, it successfully produced a sinister feel. There felt like a lack of contact work in this piece – but maybe this is compared to the other pieces’ excess partner work? There was also a sense of the choreographer becoming the centre of attention, but overall it was still one of my favourites. Maybe that was a collective mistake of this platform – in many of the pieces the choreographer performed in their own dance. This could have allowed for misjudgement and a lack of viewing the performance with an outside eye, which all choreography needs in the rehearsal stage. The night definitely had potential – hopefully next year choreographers will embrace this and push it further.