DANCE: Siobhan Davies Dance Co, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

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The Independent Culture
Siobhan Davies's latest double bill on Tuesday was one of the highlights of this year's Dance Umbrella Festival. It featured Trespass, premiered earlier this year, and Affections, a new work which alludes to and develops on the themes explored in the earlier one. The first piece has a score written by Gerald Barry and the second uses Barry's arrangement of Handel arias sung by the glorious mezzo soprano Buddug Verona James.

Both works play games with the relationship between sound and vision. This can be incestuously close, so that the steps skip alongside the music in a physical manifestation of a particular sequence: a roulade on the cello matched by a sudden slippery pirouette. But this cosy liaison can break down so that the musical and choreographic elements achieve a separateness that borders on the aleatory.

The two halves of the evening are interlinked. Both Trespass and Affections explore unison and isolation, both use the same four musicians, and both play host to the glowing white globe which occasionally rolls on-stage with Amanda Britton as if she were taking an alien lifeform out for walkies. The design element of Affections is more assertive and more interesting, largely thanks to Sasha Keir's modern baroque costumes with their severe velvet basques and skirted waistcoats in shades of plum, ochre and bronze. The dancers proceed in a kind of fractured unison in which the same movements are performed at slightly different times. Amanda Britton's return with the pet ball initiates a sequence in which she scribbles frantically on the air in front of her as if etching a vital formula. This, combined with the globe, the baroque costumes and the arias, seem to place the dancers in an Enlightenment context, a world of theory and discovery in which randomly spinning orbs became components in an exquisitely ordered universe.

The heavenly bodies of Davies's company also hover between order and chaos in choreography that springs from Davies's obvious fascination with the permutations of dance and dancers. The resulting steps were incarnated by performers like Deborah Saxon. Light, wiry and insouciant, her body carves Davies's sculptures in the air like a curling blade

Siobhan Davies: Royal Northern College of Music , Manchester, tonight, tomorrow (0161-273 4504); Birmingham Rep 8, 9 Nov (0121-236 4455)

Louise Levene

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