The female form has long been a popular plaything for choreographers. The Feminine Body presents, unsurprisingly, no exception to this trend. Using stimulus as diverse as Greek mythology and Elvis Presley, the triple bill seems to promise an evening of vibrant contrast. Unfortunately, the actuality is a programme filled with little dynamic variation between pieces; however, it does include some interesting explorations into presentation.
Beauty in Stone, by PrefaceMorn, opens the performance with an examination into modern-day perceptions of the female body. A violinist and four dancers, all fully nude, move slowly through poses inspired by Grecian sculpture and Renaissance paintings as the audience arrives. From the outset, audio-description is used as a key feature of the piece to allow accessibility to the visually impaired and to enhance the experience for all. As the dancers execute a series of solos and duets, in which their physical differences are highlighted through movement, their individual preoccupations with body shape are heard on voiceover. Although this marriage of music, speech and dance is not yet fully harmonized, it provides a strong concept for future development.
Kamala Devam’s solo follows. In FretLess, Devam uses a lifebuoy as a metaphor for safety. In a tribute to the memory of a friend, the choreography explores the ways in which holding onto security can provide both support and hindrance in life. Devam’s fusion of Indian and contemporary dance styles is at its most expansive and exciting without the prop, suggesting the restrictive nature of becoming too trapped in safety structures. Once this is established, however, the choreographic ideas become repetitive and somewhat self-indulgent.
Concluding the evening is Katia Lom’s Elvis I Love You. Here, the music of The King reignites a formerly lost passion in the five female performers. They parody Elvis’ movements and abandon their inhibitions upon hearing his voice. Their fanaticism is shown as they caress a white blanket in place of their beloved. The scope for humour in this piece is huge but the results fall short of their potential because of a lack of pace and variation. Like the rest of the bill, innovative ideas are explored yet never fully realised.