July 16, 2021
EDGE, the Postgraduate Performance Company of London Contemporary Dance School, aimed to have live performances at The Place this summer but had to cancel several as dancers were forced to isolate. However, filmmakers stepped in to deliver a graduation programme offering a different and exciting perspective.
With such a diversity of styles in the current contemporary dance world, it’s a challenge to know where to focus your training programme. For contemporary dancers, the skills demanded range from high energy street and gymnastics, regular techniques of Limon and Cunningham, to ‘untraining the body’ and creating dancers that can make pedestrian movement riveting to watch.
The triple bill’s works, while varied in context, were all of the moment in movement, sounds and looks. There was no mistaking 2021. Paradoxically it was possibly the most radical of the choreographers, marikiscrycrycry (aka Malik Nashad Sharpe), who delivered the most regular dance content. His Two Tracks and a Mix, with dancers dressed in slick high fashion white dance gear, emulated much of the pop video, clubbing scene.
It successfully de/genders relationships, a neat equalising ploy in a cast of four males and ten females. The camera lovingly hovered over bodies artistically stretching and contracting with eyes making direct and inviting contact. The mood is bold and audacious, a touch of virtuosity contrasting sensual moves. The camera roams through the ensemble, filming from many angles to add interest to a work that would gain from a little editing.
Holly Blakey’s Phantom, an original film commission from FACT, is filmed in what looks like an underground bunker with solid square pillars dividing the grey space. The dancers sport costumes the likes of which we haven’t seen since Michael Clark in the ’80s. Designed and made by Chopova Lowena they add a glorious touch of madness to the dance. There is an undercurrent of sexual aggression that adds tension, displayed in outbursts of energetic movement. It’s a deeply personal exploration by the dancers each an individual but joined by an emotional tie as they stamp out the fierce choreography. There is a soft heart beating under the extraordinary brightly patterned costumes that offer a protective shell and it’s a work that connects strongly and strangely.
Léa Tirabasso’s A million eyes opened the programme. Tirabasso chose to have the work filmed in a single take allowing the audience to choose their own focus rather than the director’s cut, and it captures the diversity, the individuality and loose structure of the piece. The dancers dressed in strong, bright colours, confidently make the choreography their own. Looking for the animal in the movement, they become hunters and hunted, sensitive to every move, guarded and quick to pounce. Then in joyous abandon they scrap and tumble like a litter of puppies.
As the company were barred from their normal touring dates, having the chance to gain some quality filming experience was a bonus. In the short introduction from dancers, Sarah Baugstrø and Miles Kearley, were enthusiastic about the experience of working with the range of choreographers and rehearsal director Jeannie Steele. EDGE seems to have cleverly turned the crisis into a positive experience.