The 29th edition of Dance Umbrella didn't so much shower its bounty on the dance scene this week as poke about the edges. The opening event couldn't have been tinier in scale, as the Canadian Paul-André Fortier performed the first of 30 daily plein-air solos outside Liverpool St station. Trim and neat in black shirt and trews, he could have passed for a fifty-something media type until he stretched out full-length on the tarmac to claim his space.
As lunch-hour workers stood about to watch, with varying degrees of engagement, Fortier strode, crouched, and sliced the air with his arms as if sizing up surrounding buildings for an architect's plan. It was his focus that commanded attention: monkishly calm, steady, and immune even to the most vocal discouragements. He will reprise this daily stint, rain or shine, to the end of the month. Meanwhile the first paying Umbrella event was at Sadler's Wells: a trio of films by Isaac Julien each with a live dance element. Most successful, in terms of a happy marriage, was the recent Small Boats which at one point offered such luxuriant layering of cinematic and living images that one almost drowned in the beauty of it. Elsewhere, though, the dance looked arbitrary and thin. Not a good advert for the season.Reuse content