Phoenix Dance Theatre, Linbury Studio, London
Our friends in the North are welcome to hang around
Sunday 28 October 2012
Whoever came up with the name Phoenix 30 years ago can have had no idea how many times the Leeds-based dance company would subsequently rise from its own ashes. Critical changes of leadership and policy – membership was originally all-male and all-black, and has since been through every other permutation – have caused feathers to fly repeatedly. But contemporary dance companies are hardly two-a-penny in the north of England, and Phoenix Dance Theatre has held fast to a sense of its rarity value.
On its first visit to London in almost five years, it brought four strongly contrasted pieces. Henri Oguike's Signal uses the pounding beat of Japanese Taiko drums to send shudders of movement through the body in shoulder flexes, chest twitches, spine flicks and wild upper-body shakes. Red bodysuits slashed with black allow every contour to register. Jumps are blade-sharp against a scarlet sky, and, later, braziers of real flame. But in quieter mood few of these dancers know how to fix the audience's gaze. Tall, steel-strung Glenn Graham is a magnificent exception. When he's on stage, it's all you want to look at.
In Catch, by Ana Lujan Sanchez, René Magritte's overcoated gent in a bowler is multiplied by six, but only one of these clones has a hat, and the other five want to wear it. Dashing hither and thither in a tight bunch (an echo of the nearer-to-home L S Lowry), the bowler is serially reappropriated. That could have been funny if all the dancers were as smart as Azzurra Ardovini, a pint-sized spitfire whose every move registers like a concentrate of what everyone else is doing.
By contrast, the dancers seemed to be in their element in Soundclash, a clubby, hip hop workout credited to "Kwesi Johnson and the cast". The term cymatics is a new one on me, but it's apparently about the patterns of soundwaves made visible (and there I was thinking that was a snowflake projected on the floor). Through thick, fuzzy lighting, a rubber-limbed quartet scramble through athletic sequences of handsprings, head butts and bodypops: super stylish, clearly revelling in it.
Director Sharon Watson's Melt, with white-clad figures swooping and spiralling on aerial ropes, brings the evening to an elegant, if rather sedate, close.
Aberystwyth Arts Centre (01970 623232) 14-15 Nov, York Theatre Royal (01904 623568) 20-21 Nov, and touring
Jenny Gilbert sees statues move in The Rodin Project
Top-price tickets are a snip at £37.50 for the Royal Ballet’s first mixed programme of the season. It includes a welcome revival of Wayne McGregor’s Infra, with haunting neon artwork by Julian Opie, the luscious Fools Paradise by Christopher Wheeldon, and work by emerging talent Liam Scarlett. At the Royal Opera House, from Sat.
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Stolen Instagram photo sells for $90,000
- 2 Before you complain about your GP, this is what you need to know about actually doing the job
- 3 UK's biggest male rape charity Survivors UK has state funding slashed to zero despite 120% rise in men reporting sexual violence and seeking help
- 4 'Don't blame all men for rape' campaign backfires spectacularly
- 5 Charlie Charlie Challenge explained: not a Mexican demon being summoned — it's gravity
Stolen Instagram photo sells for $90,000
Grace of Monaco film panned: Screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman as movie gets US debut
Thrill of the chaste: The truth about Gandhi's sex life
Suicide Squad: leaked footage shows first look at Batmobile chasing Joker through city streets
ASAP Rocky sparks outrage with misogynistic lyrics about Rita Ora in new song 'Better Things'
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'