His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen
October 25, 2016
Phoenix Dance Theatre provide the grand closing number for Aberdeen’s DanceLive festival. The unfortunately poorly attended Triple Bill gives its audience an accomplished cast in strong, diverting choreographies.
Until.With/Out.Enough is an intensive, taut piece of choreography, reworked for the Phoenix dancers by Itzik Galili. The dancers take to the stage drilled in the exactness of the movement, which is both brutal in its attack and bizarre in the odd flap of the hands and hip shifts. Leg extensions make startling appearances at unexpected times, while elsewhere the dancers hunch into their leaps, grabbing the leading leg in a masterful explosion across the stage.
The music constantly changes pace, which the dancers respond to ably, although the last track veers away somewhat from the strain that has dominated most of the piece. Themes of order, compulsion, and strife are communicated by an easy symbolism that’s up for grabs in the costume, colour schemes and group formations. This is uncomplicated, technical, ballet-driven contemporary dance at its clearest.
Melt, the second piece of the evening, and choreographed by Artistic Director Sharon Watson, is evidently very fun for its dancers. They impressively switch into aerial choreography, with the men getting most of the dizzyingly high jumps using the ropes, while the women are held aloft in strong but stilted static poses. The continued presence of the aerial supports hanging from the ceiling, however, proves distracting when the dancers move in front of or around them.
The relationship between the dancers is playful and coy, their costumes dreamy and pyjama like. Melt’s music is likewise happy go lucky, lending Melt an indifferent air; Watson doesn’t feel the audience need to ‘delve too hard to discover what it’s about’. A wistful piece, Melt doesn’t venture beyond the realm of tricks and visual entertainment.
The evening ends with Caroline Finn’s Bloom, where we enter a world of distorted, yearning relationships and urban dystopia. The cast begin with a buoyant vocal number, parodying high society platitudes with an impish grotesquery. It is almost a shame when they start ‘dancing’, for while Bloom is visually rich, the movement is not always as thematically developed as the lighting and scenography of Yaron Abulafia.
Nonetheless, moments appear of endearingly awkward contortions, and physical throws and jerks through the air. The music is enjoyably eclectic, ranging from lounge covers of Radiohead’s Creep to buffoonish trumpets. Bloom is a semblance of the perverse, which pushes but doesn’t descend into complete absurdity, but it is an indulgent addition to a confident, robust programme of contemporary dance.