The Place, London
November 14, 2019
Tom Dale’s Step Sonic is a programme where dance meets electronic sounds in a seriously joined-at-the-hip relationship. Dale takes contemporary dance to its natural home, a dangerous place of new ideas and untrodden pathways, and the result is an evening of stimulating dance.
In Step Sonic, Dale works to visualise the soundscore through the dancers’ bodies, finding a visceral reaction to the sounds. He finds infinite variety adding voice to percussion that ranges from a neat duet of tapping fingers on wooden boxes and nails scratching on a board to stamping feet. The dance content was a treat whether the trio of all three dancers or Jemima Brown’s solo as she uses the stage like an ice rink her feet, slithering and sliding with the skill of a skater. The singing, the three dancers intoning a repeated line, “Can you trust in me?” didn’t add much but the strength of the choreography and the performances were sufficient to make this a riveting work.
The second half of the programme gave each of the dancers a solo opportunity climaxing in Surge, a piece that gave Brown a platform for her exceptional talents. Dale together with digital designer, Barret Hodgson, and lighting designer, Richard Statham, have harnessed technology to transform the simple black box to a landscape of billowing smoke and piercing lights that carve the space into geometric shapes. The charismatic figure of Brown holds the centre ground and as the smoke clears, pulses of sound vibrate through her body, articulated in fluid limbs that seem to defy limitations. It was an electrifying performance.
Resonance of Air, choreographed by Eleesha Drennan and performed by Rose Sall Sao found inspiration in bat bleeps, the cries of a flying bat used to judge distance through the returning echoes. They are eerie sounds and made an effectual launch pad to create a fantasy figure, Hilda, dressed eccentrically and on a quest. Through the sensual dance language and aided by Charlie Knight’s score, Sao effectively drew us into her mysterious world.
Jamaal Buckman’s Escape kept to the futuristic theme but gave himself an uphill task with a very complicated narrative that struggled to nail the necessary detail in so short a work. The android human love interest was a neat idea, and a hefty dose of irony would have helped to keep the audience on board. Juan Sánchez Plaza did his best but the work was sadly not going anywhere.