Resolution!, The Place, London


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The Independent Culture

The Place’s Resolution! season is older than many of the artists appearing in it.

Now in its 23rd year, this annual programme of new year dance is a marathon of fresh beginnings. Over the next six weeks, the theatre will show 78 new works, many by first-time choreographers. Past stars who started out at Resolution! include Wayne McGregor, Hofesh Shechter and Kate Prince.

Any Resolution! bill is a mixed bag, a lucky dip. The 2012 programme launched with comedy, compulsions and a dash of ballet. It’s a good introduction to the sheer range of the season.

Scratched, by The Ticket Theatre Dance, is a portrait of backstage chaos. A cleaner prepares the stage while dancers warm up. An increasingly frantic voiceover tries to summon up a missing performer: “If there is anybody in the theatre who thinks they can do something while Miss Stubbs dances the smoky pas de deux, please make your way to the stage now.” This adds a bewildered musician to the cast, playing a steel drum while others tap dance around him.

Lexi Bradburn has fun with the panic of getting a show on, the performers making the best of it as the situation slides out of control. There’s some repetition, but Bradburn also has some very good jokes.

The humour in Eleanor Sikorski’s Chocolate gets darker as the piece goes on. Sikorski arranges forks in a fan pattern on the floor, putting a chocolate on each handle. Once she’s got the pattern set up, she pings the sweets into her mouth, chewing soberly before moving on to the next.

It’s the first of a whole series of eating rituals in a deadpan performance. She rubs a single square of chocolate between her hands, for minutes, then carefully licks it off. To a soundtrack of a couple flirting and eating, she cradles a whole sack of Christmas chocolates. Are the sweets substitute affection, compulsion, punishment? Sikorski’s straightfaced rituals become unsettling.

Resolution! is dominated by contemporary dance, which makes A.D. Dance Company unusual. Founded by Holly Noble, this nine-strong company uses classical technique and classical music. In FAWN, danced to Mozart’s Requiem,  the dancers push themselves in and out of balletic shapes, breaking lines and wiggling once they’ve got into position. Noble moves her cast with confidence, from unison groupings to duets. The young company give a polished performance. Resolution! is full of promise and surprises.

Until 17 February. Box office 020 7121 1100.