London Contemporary Dance School Graduation Performance 2022

The Place, London
July 5, 2022

One of the perennial joys of visiting The Place is the thrill of the unexpected. The scary title of this year’s LCDS Graduation Performances, Rocks Rolling Uphill Ends with Disaster, gave a hint of what was to come. That proved to be four very different works delivered with commitment and huge energy. The concepts were thought provoking and relevant with the black humour of Sam Coren’s Story Telling for Earthly Survival, coming tops.

Set 65 million years hence, it is a witty discourse on the now extinct human species, acted out by a uniformed cohort in black sci-fi body suits, their red tinged eyes giving them a vulnerable edge. The highly original choreography is embroidered with clever detail of twitchy fingers that seem to be relentlessly texting invisible iPhones. A screen gives amusing data on our weird species which works well to pace the action. The human mating ritual is brilliantly reinvented. The fifteen students were fiercely focussed, giving every move and situation full value, with just a hint of irony adding the sparkle. A clever climax has the final human act as a single dancer giving a roar.

Eve & the Corps of Banshee from Becky Namgauds, opens on a cleverly positioned pyramid of bodies, the heads all facing front, that wriggles and squirms into separate bodies. Yoko Ono’s voiceover describes how the media labelled her a witch and this was taken up as a positive nomenclature by the predominantly female casts. The group work with trust; bodies are thrown and caught, and wild hair tossed. The partnering is innovative, even allowing a dancer an upside-down walk across the backdrop. While there is little development to the theme, the pace and energy held to the end.

Anders Duckworth’s Lay of the Land captures current concerns as the quartet of dancers explore boundaries and identity. Using four neon tubes as versatile props, they create borders within the choreography, the play of lights enhancing the lighting design. Dancers, Daisy King, Guillaume Lolliot, Tur Moran and Yuchen Yolanda Wu are additionally credited in the creation of the piece. It is a demanding short work, needing technical skill and importantly, commitment to the concept which at times loses focus. The final section has the dancers stripping off their baggy outer shells to reveal a blaze of frills and brightly coloured silks as the contained exuberant interior bursts forth from the constrained exterior. It is a work full of interesting moments but that would have benefitted from more space and time to get to grips with such a complex theme.

Determined to send us home happy, the evening closed on Anthony Matsena’s How Not to be Miserable. A more serious start with dancers each cradling a lighted bulb soon finds it’s mojo and once the rhythm starts up, there is no holding back. It slips into the category of end-of-term party rather than graduation performance and a more solid structure to display the students’ talents would have been welcome. However, we were left in no doubt as to their stamina and fitness levels!