The Place, London
May 11, 2022
It may be in spring rather than winter, but Resolution, The Place’s festival of bite-size performances is back, this season featuring 66 artists across 22 nights.
Resolution programmes can be hit and miss. The three works shown each programme often have little in common. Not so on this evening, with Marita Anastasi’s archive 2.0, Hannah Finn’s Chochma חוכמה and Stories of Belonging by Engholm Danseteater linked by memory, belonging and the act of remembering.
archive 2.0 is a continuation of Anastasi’s earlier archive. Past and present merge as she stands against a huge sheet, suspended in a circle from the ceiling. As a fan causes it to billow gently, she closes her eyes as if being transported onto her memories. The way the sheet is hung cleverly gives accompanying projections onto it a sense of depth.
Although it can be seen as a metaphor for the way one’s mind often flits around in the past, a section that sees Anastasi running and almost falling before heading off in another direction is less effective, as is her rolling and tumbling around the floor to the sounds of children playing. Presumably this is some sort of reaction to her digging into her personal archive, but the two elements lack strong connection. Finn would later use a similar device to much greater effect. Anastasi does pull it all together at the end, however, when a scene using projected text about her grandmother is simply but powerfully done. It was just a shame that much of the spoken text was drowned by George Demetriou’s other sound.
Hannah Finn’s Chochma חוכמה is a deeply personal, deeply felt, poignant work that seamlessly fuses contortion, verbatim text, spoken word, physical theatre and contemporary dance. The title means wisdom in Hebrew, and the work speaks to the intuition and foresight of Finn’s great-grandmother, who fled Poland just before the Holocaust, and her mother’s decision to leave an abusive relationship.
The past is brought to life through incredibly evocative and family photographs projected onto the back wall and spoken text that speak incredibly loudly. At times, it’s hard to tear yourself away from them and shift the gaze to the talented Finn in front. Her contortion and acrobatics flow beautifully. She makes good use of a spinning cube and treats us to the very difficult Marinelli bend, a posture in which the performer supports their whole body weight solely by biting onto a mouth grip attached to a short post in a backbend.
Unusually for such movement, you never feel it becomes the primary focus or raison d’être of the work. Rather, Finn uses her art as her way of processing the trauma in her and her family’s history, the two being inextricably and quite clearly linked.
Among other clever touches is a line of boots, initially across the front of the stage, that appear to be symbols of the past. At one point Finn hides them away, but they cannot be escaped. Chochma closes with them gently turning in that spinning cube, a sort of peace achieved.
Laura Engholm’s Stories of Belonging for Engholm Dansteater opens with violinist Sian Phillips gently waking dancers Virginia Poli and Zinah Mangera-Lekew. Her playing brought a peaceful opening but it was unfortunate that a monologue she also delivers about an apartment in Almeria (I think!) was barely audible. We are told that the dance duet that follows is an interpretation of stories about belonging in all senses of the word. Just as well, because as pleasing as it was, meaning and connection was rather opaque to me. As well performed as it was, it all felt rather abstract.
Resolution continues at The Place. Visit www.theplace.org.uk for details.