It's the summer holidays, and the Royal Opera House is given over to visiting companies.
It's the summer holidays, and the Royal Opera House is given over to visiting companies. The Bolshoi Ballet and -injury permitting - Sylvie Guillem have commandeered the main stage. Upstairs in the Clore studio, there have been two seasons of small-scale work. Snagged and Clored, the second season, is curated by the company Snag.
Programmes change each night; the evening I attended, there were four pieces, one by Snag, two by an associate choreographer of the Rambert Dance Company and another by Igloo - a collective using circus skills - the last two of whom used live music. The works don't all suit the Clore. The space itself is huge, a studio big enough to rehearse full casts of opera and ballet, and it can overwhelm the dances.
In Spirit Level - a three-hander choreographed by Sarah Warsop of Snag - at any one time one dancer sits onstage while another dances. The stage is so wide, and the audience so close, that you can't watch both performers at once. The still figure should change the stage picture, but in this venue, the effect is lost. Warsop emphasises the different styles of her dancers to Charles Kriel's grating soundtrack. She gives Darren Ellis dry, precise wriggles and sudden steps forward. Pari Naderi is more balanced, slightly softer. Joanne Fong's dancing is weighted, and the steps are full of counterbalancing movements. She'll take a breath to start a step, then let movement swing from one end of her body to the other. Fong shows the most variety, but it's a dry work.
Rafael Bonachela, the associate choreographer of the Rambert, has two pieces. 2 in B Minor is a duet for Celia Grannum and Patricia Okenwa. Ryoji Ikeda's electronic score is composed entirely of short phrases - a few long notes, then a pause before the next phrase. Bonachela's dance stops with each pause. In Irony of Fate, the second of Bonachela's pieces, Ruth Palmer plays a violin partita by Vytautas Barkauskas while Amy Hollingsworth dances. The music is jerky, with scratching bow work, and Hollingsworth twitches, scraping each foot against the other calf. Just as dancer and musician build up a rapport, Bonachela breaks it with another of his high leg extensions. In both these pieces, dancers keep throwing up a leg, grasping the ankle and tugging themselves round. They move boldly, but I wish Bonachela would try something new.
Igloo's Goodbye Venus is the oddest piece of the evening. The rock band Wagen play a thrashing song, live on stage. We cut to a recorded soundtrack of hums and folk tunes as the dancers come on. The costumes bundle men and women into skirts and tunics, like updated Highland crofters. Kirsty Little is on stilts, moving around the stage in something like a waltz step. She carries a pole, and braces herself against it as she bends down.
A projected backdrop shows the sun rising and setting - a polar sun, staying low on the horizon. As it sets, so does Little, sliding down to the floor and lying still. Her fellow dancers carry her off shoulder high (stilts still attached) before Wagen play more rock music.Reuse content