Dance review: The Place Prize Final, London

3.00

 

Arts prizes clearly have a function beyond making obscure artists more visible and a little less poor. In the case of The Place Prize for choreography, now in its fifth edition, it also enables the making of the work in the first place. While a visual artist or a novelist can shut themselves away and simply get on with it, putative dance-makers are caught in a bind.

Your future Russell Maliphants and Hofesh Shechters struggle to find the funds to light, design and soundtrack a public performance, not to mention persuading their hard-up friends to rehearse for weeks on the prospect of no pay. Thanks to sponsorship by Bloomberg, however, the biennial Place Prize can select entries at the ideas stage and put up the resources to make them happen. Last summer 208 skeleton ideas were whittled down to 16, which were put into development, as they say in business, and then narrowed down to four.

Those finalists are now in the throes of a run of 10 public performances (all four each night) culminating in Saturday night’s decision by a panel of judges as to who should land the £25,000 jackpot. But that’s not all. There’s also a nightly Audience Prize of £1000 to be played for. In theory, with changing audiences, this should mean every finalist getting a look in. Instead, though, it has been the comedy turn that has repeatedly topped the audience vote (as happened in the Final of 2011.) Does this signal a desperate hunger for belly laughs in contemporary dance, or a general perplexity at what else is on offer?  Jokes, even bad jokes, may extend a hand to a drowning man.

H2 dance, the comedy duo whose bank balance is already looking healthier, are unfortunately not very funny at all. In Duet, they present a partnership in crisis, both on and off stage, a kind of Saunders and French in Lycra. Graceless in their pink and silver outfits, they go through the motions of a very basic dance routine, delivered with all the panache of a Keep Fit class for duffers. As they lunge and twirl in synch, barbed observations of each other’s shortcomings emerge. Hanna Lindgren (the short, bossy one), talks about their recent experience of couples therapy. ”You and I, we’re like cheese and onion, fruit n’ fibre, Barbie and Ken” she says to big, put-upon Heidi Rustgaard. Heidi’s main function is to take the flak and douse the scene in dry ice at significant moments. A sequence describing her nervous breakdown as she lies on the floor doing abdominal crunches is memorably banal.  

Autobiography is a clear theme this year, as is the spoken word.  Rick Nodine’s Dead Gig harks back to his nerdy teenage fandom of the Grateful Dead, hardly a fashionable band even in the 1980s. Nodine begins by imparting some Deadhead lore, launching into a call-and-response with the band’s late frontman Jerry Garcia using a plimsoll as a microphone. It’s an engaging  performance, honest and well-judged in its effects, until the point when Nodine describes a major, LSD-fuelled concert in America when everyone in the audience was dancing in the aisles. His gambit is simply to walk off stage, leaving us to imagine the scene as the music plays on, which seems a cop-out. Nonetheless, Dead Gig scores points for originality, as well as a great soundtrack.

The Wishing Well by Eva Recacha (who has been a Place Prize finalist before) is if anything even more personal, though the choreographer has hired someone else to dance it. Martha Pasakopoulou, tiny, bullet-fast, and with a face as sunny as a Greek holiday, is indeed a talent to treasure. It’s her force of personality, sharp timing and sheer technique that carry this intricate, layered piece about memory and the hopes and desires of childhood, and the way they are tempered and transformed in later life. Child-sized herself, Pasakopoulou bombs about the space, a fizzing conduit between urgency and dreaming. She has a body that can do anything, and you find yourself drawn inexorably into her physical world. This was the piece I most wanted to see again, the one that seemed to have more to reveal.

Almost as good in my view, a view not shared by the audience that night, was Athletes, by Riccardo Buscarini, another finalist who has been here before. Under ice-blue light, in silence, three figures in white bodysuits, their eyes sooty holes in snow-white faces, disport themselves like futuristic Three Graces, or an eerie car-crash of Japanese Butoh and Frederick Ashton’s Gymnopedies. After about 10 minutes of silence (a long time in dance), the lush swell of Bernard Hermann’s movie score for Vertigo crashes in, and you notice the lines of travel begin to resemble those psychedelic spirals that punctuate the film. I was gripped by the underpinning of eroticism in this piece. You never quite see what happens, but one of the three icy mavens appears to be killing off her rivals by kissing them. Again, it’s a piece that would repay further viewings. It was performed with immaculate, verging on yogic, calm control by its trio of dancers.

Tomorrow night’s final at The Place will be streamed online, live, from 7.45pm. www.theplaceprize.com/live

Arts and Entertainment
The Rolling Stones at the Roundhouse in London in 1971: from the left, Keys, Charlie Watts, Mick Taylor and Mick Jagger

Music ...featuring Eric Clapton no less
Arts and Entertainment
In the dock: Dot Branning (June Brown); Union boss claims EastEnders writers are paid less than minimum wage

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Roger Christian wrote and directed the 1980 Black Angel original, which was lost until 2011

film
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Green (Hand out press photograph provided by Camilla Gould)

TV
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones reviewWarning: Spoilers aplenty
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Healy of The 1975 performing on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival, at Worthy Farm in Somerset

music
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe Withnail and I creator, has a new theory about killer's identity
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tvDick Clement and Ian La Frenais are back for the first time in a decade
Arts and Entertainment
The Clangers: 1969-1974
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Rocky road: Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play an estranged husband and wife in 'San Andreas'
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Nicole Kidman plays Grace Kelly in the film, which was criticised by Monaco’s royal family

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emilia Clarke could have been Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey but passed it up because of the nude scenes

film
Arts and Entertainment
A$AP Rocky and Rita Ora pictured together in 2012

music
Arts and Entertainment
A case for Mulder and Scully? David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in ‘The X-Files’

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Impressions of the Creative Community Courtyard within d3. The development is designed to 'inspire emerging designers and artists, and attract visitors'

architecture
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
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.

    Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

    ‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

    Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
    The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

    The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

    ... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
    12 best olive oils

    Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

    Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
    Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

    Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

    There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?