A collaboration between Cloud Dance Festival and Giant Olive, Cloud Dance Sundays hopes to become a regular occurrence at the theatre above the cosy Lion and Unicorn pub in Kentish Town. All the pieces shown were particularly relevant and memorable, demonstrating that dance can have striking power and determination behind it when fuelled by human nature.
Opening the event was a trio choreographed by Rachel Burn, entitled Pull Through, Flick. Each performer demonstrated undoubted skill and strength in their movement; Burn’s expressive choreography evoking a sense of built-up desperation throughout, often closely integrated with the music. The solemn, almost spiritual, journey through darkness into light is reflected in the shadowy lighting design. And while this was appropriate stylistically, it posed practical problems. The lighting did not do the performers justice, with much of the definition unfortunately almost completely lost in the dimly (in fact, barely) lit space.
What’s On Stage Best Choreographer Award nominee John Ross performed his own choreography next, depicting the story of an Afghan soldier who lost his life in battle. The honesty of Man Down was brilliantly executed, accompanied at moments with voice recordings of a fellow soldier’s letter to the deceased’s mother – a touching addition to the striking soundscape of warfare. Ross’s mature choreography makes his solo a harrowing and poignant experience, with such impressive contrasts in his movement patterns that it is impossible not to be affected. The stark final image of the word ‘bang’ written across his bare back defies cliché, perhaps reluctantly admitting the futility of war, especially in this attempt to justify to a mother that her son’s death was not in vain.
Concluding the evening, and certainly worth the wait, was Tom Jackson-Greaves, runner up in the 2011 New Adventures Choreography Award, performing his own Vanity Fowl. Originally commissioned and produced for the award by Re:Bourne, Vanity Fowl offers a simple narrative: a man’s desire to belong. From commonplace to grace to disgrace, we follow the story of this insecure young man as he is frequently humiliated, aided by a clever film projection directed by Miles Langley. Though the solo has had to be scaled down from Sadler’s Wells’s stage for this intimate venue, Greaves still ensures the audience are thoroughly entertained, with an alluring and somewhat intense charm surrounding his dynamic flair and utter commitment to his performance.
Although it is still early days for Cloud Dance Sundays, the first performance gives much to be excited about for the future.
Cloud Dance Sundays is a new monthly fixture. For more information and tickets for future events, see www.cloud-dance-sundays.com
Photo: Tom Jackson-Greaves.