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
Loading individual letters on to an original Heidelberg printing press
books
Arts and Entertainment
Shades of glory: Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend

Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
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.

    General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

    'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

    In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
    VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

    How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

    Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
    They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

    Typefaces still matter in the digital age

    A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
    Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

    'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

    New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
    The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

    Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

    Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

    Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
    Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

    Crisp sales are in decline

    As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
    Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

    Ronald McDonald the muse

    A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
    13 best picnic blankets

    13 best picnic blankets

    Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
    Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

    Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

    Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
    Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'