Dance review: Touch Wood, The Place, London


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The Independent Culture

The Place’s Touch Wood programme invites audiences to give feedback on works in progress. Audience members still weren’t expecting to find themselves on stage for Aoi Nakamura and Esteban Fourmi’s KINBAKU, edging away nervously whenever Nakamura lurched towards them, swinging a bundle of ropes. By the end, they were drawn into the piece, moving confidently along the lines of rope.

Touch Wood is part of the venue’s Summer House series of developing work. Performances are shown, not The Place’s theatre space, but in the big, wooden-floored studio. These are the bare bones of new dances, performed without stage costumes and only a few props. Nakamura stands on a box, her long skirt flowing past her feet. She’s a scary figure, flailing about the stage, but as the ropes unravel, she gives the onstage audience more control. 

Moreno Solinas and Igor Urzelai show an engaging sense of their audience in Idiot-Syncrasy, catching your eye as they bounce past. In this extract from a longer work, they circle each other, facing forwards. When one turns at right angles, still circling, it has a surprisingly big impact. The circle gets tighter and tighter, slowing down to become a couple dance, gentle and intimate. It’s an appealing work.

Freddie Opoku Addaie’s Show of Hands is being prepared for the Dance Umbrella festival this autumn. It’s built around many wooden hand structures, with Opoku Addaie spending time setting them up, then using them as the springboard for hand-related puns. Then he starts to run, a fast but precarious sprint, repeatedly catching one foot on the other leg. He staggers but saves himself with each trip, until at last he trips too hard. He’s a strong performer, and Show of Hands gives a sense of swirling ideas, still coming into focus.

Nathan Geering’s Addiction is a collaboration with violinist Jodie Marshall. He moves in loose contemporary moves or dips into breakdance, with headspins and backspins. The strongest moments come when dancer and musician work most closely. She leans over him like a malevolent spirit: each swipe of her bow makes him flinch into a change of direction.

These are all embryo works, still changing and developing. The atmosphere is friendly, with artists introducing and explaining their works, and plenty of takers for the feedback sessions at the end.

Season continues until 9 September. Box office 020 7121 1100.