Choreographer Jonathan Burrows can spin small worlds out of very little – in his duets with composer Matteo Fargion, he's made intricate and appealing dances out of a few gestures and patter syllables. For this new show, presented as part of Dance Umbrella, he works on similar lines with performer Chrysa Parkinson. Their new work Dogheart rambles more than those earlier duets, with some of the charm but much less focus.
Burrows and Parkinson sit at a table, speaking over each other. They both seem to be telling a story, but their overlapping voices make it hard to follow. Whatever it is, it's full of lights: a low-energy bulb on a loop, a security light spilling over the garden, streetlamps, car headlights. The voices tangle, starting to repeat phrases just as they get to the "loop" of the low energy bulb.
In different spoken sections, they speak in rhythms – in unison, or with one joining in on every tenth word. They speed up and slow down, as if their voices are being distorted on tape, or pause to stress a random word at precise, regular intervals. Do the words mean anything, or are they just patterns?
The speeches are broken up by dances and animation sequences, with piano music by Howard Skempton. The animation is low-key, in scribbly pencil outlines. It shows images from the story – all those lights – plus pointing fingers, an off-licence, finally a dog and a heart. The outline of a human figure is left blank on a shaded-in page. Because the images come in sequence, it's easy to start to read them as a story – or are the images random? Are the words?
Parkinson and Burrows dance, side by side or in solos. Parkinson is a lean, eccentric performer, skipping through little dips and bends. Her dancing is taut but quite dry. Burrows is more compelling.
Dance Umbrella continues until 30 October (www.danceumbrella.co.uk)Reuse content