DoubleTake

Siobhan Davies Dance Company: Mercury Theatre, Colchester

Trespass is both the title and theoretical basis of Siobhan Davies's latest work. As the choreographer explains in her programme note, some months before making the dance she asked her collaborators "to contribute dynamically different elements, each of which had the potential to alter and influence the other components..." Hence the rather precarious contrivance of one element "trespassing" upon another.However, watching Trespass, you feel that Davies stands alone in truly understanding her instructions and putting them into practice. For whereas Davies, with the requisite subtlety, lets her choreography temporarily infringe upon Gerald Barry's music or David Buckland's stage design, or Peter Mumford's lighting, the dance becomes smothered under the superfluous assertiveness of its companion parts.

Buckland's objects - a huge ball of light, a tilting screen-cum-roof, and his and Sasha Keir's stilts and arm extensions for a designer scarecrow - together with Barry's music, a series of irresolute passages, cranky and amicable by turns, for piano, cello, violin and viola, do not so much trespass onDavies's choreography as compete against its natural force and inclination. The dance can only increase in speed as it tries to wipe out each intrusion.

As she demonstrated in last year's The Art of Touch, set to Scarlatti's harpsichord sonatas, Davies is entrenched in exploring her dancers' capacity for fast and intricate phrases of movement. But in Trespass the dance appears to be racing against, for instance, the domination of the score's gagged strings and pounding piano. Likewise, Buckland's suspended, rectangular mass seems to dwarf and displace the performers.

The work opens with a slow, meditative phrase in which Gill Clarke and the scarecrow figure hint at the unequal power play yet to occur. Beneath the scarecrow's massive arms, now tracing wide arcs in an assertion of territorial rights to the darkened space, Clarke is rendered insignificant yet not invisible. As the scene fades, other dancers enter along a downstage corridor, shaping their torsos and limbs in a rapid stream of sculptural configurations. But, as the piece proceeds, the dance element frequently allows itself to be overwhelmed. Davies's acceptance that her choreography might be influenced by other elements does not permit wholesale takeover. But despite her associates' rather heavy-handed interpretation, the work emerges as one in which the choreographer, at least, shows us a proper, sustained and riveting act of trespass - that of the dance continuously infiltrating and re-examining its own place of action, unable to leave itself alone as it ripples, surges and back-tracks across the stage.

SOPHIE CONSTANTI

Composers and choreographers insist that the discrete elements of their collaboration must be able to stand alone. Otherwise, one overshadows, even obliterates, the other. The music frequently does stand alone in the concert hall. The dance, on the other hand, at least at the moment of the audience's perception, always exists in some relationship, however obscure, with its accompaniment. Gerald Barry's music is fidgety, sometimes convulsively so, yet in Siobhan Davies's Trespass it generates movement that is dreamily serene. Even so, there is no sense that the two don't fit.

What Barry provides are two piano quartets, the second, which is new, leading to the first, written in 1992. The music begins as if violin and piano (the players are in the pit) are sizing each other up. Once they establish a relationship, viola and cello join in. There are moments of delirium, others when the music careens back and forth between lilting folkishness and a kind of martial baroque; Davies's choreography usually moves at a tangent, although when the music is at its most frenzied, the dancers seem to provide a cartoon illustration of what we are hearing, and at one moment co-ordination is exact, the music achieving silence as the dancers freeze.

The work's title derives from her wish that music, dance, costume, design and lighting should "trespass on the others' domain". Certainly design is here a significant player. An enigmatic figure, resembling Edward Scissorhands with stretched limbs, hovers over the early movement. Later a radiant globe is rolled around the stage, but although eerie, its presence feels tentative, unresolved.

Still, there is a playful humour in Davies's choreography: she has a way of making mystery out of mere walking and running. This is perhaps where it best matches Barry's music, finding natural poetry in everyday zaniness. That poetry is at its most poignant during the closing moments. As the instruments resolve the tensions that have agitated the music, Peter Mumford's lighting provides a set of feux follets to lead the dancers into darkness. When music and movement have disappeared we are left longing for their return.

NICK KIMBERLEY

31 May and 1 June at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle (0191 232 2061); 4-5 June at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield (0114- 276 9922)

Arts and Entertainment
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'