The triple bill began with Sarah Levinsky’s Plastic Island, which constructed a landscape of plastic carrier bags centre stage. The piece consisted of four female solos, each entering the stage and interacting with the bags to create different relationships. Each dancer displayed a sense of individuality within their movement, and the most impressive element to this performance was the realisation that all the dancers were improvising. As the night’s pieces were all works in progress, Levinsky had decided not to set anything at this stage of her investigation. Plastic Island delivered an intense, alienated atmosphere which transported the audience to another world – or foreign island as the title insinuates. The sculpture of carrier bags added connotations of mass consumerism and environmental issues, and I predict the concluding product to be captivating.
Kolesk Dance’s Julia Cheng followed the first piece with her solo, Hat & Ball. Whilst Cheng has an undeniable original, interesting movement style and stage presence, the choreography completely lacked sophistication. The title left nothing to the imagination – the piece centred around a hat and a ball for choreographic inspiration. However, the solo received good feedback from the members of the audience from a non-dance background, who could relate to the non-narrative style and enjoyed the hybrid mix of dance styles that Cheng always delivers.
The Hat Factory saved the best till last as Helen Parlor ended the night with her new work Close/Distance. This piece of dance theatre used interesting characters to give a voyeuristic insight into the minds of those people who live nearby and we pass regularly in the street – but don’t bother to interact with. The performers delivered well executed lines to enhance the dancing narrative, and all gave incredibly believable performances. It was hard to believe that this piece was also in the early stages of development, as the relationships between the dancers seemed so natural that one would presume they had worked together for years – when in fact in reality it was just ten days. Close/Distance was dynamic and thought provoking, and I am waiting with baited breath to watch the final production when it tours next year.