The first piece presents the abstracted side of Davies's oeuvre, which can be rather daunting. Here she asks her co-creators (of music, design and lighting) to "trespass" on dance's domain in ways that will alter its course. This throws up strong visual ideas: a fluorescent screen that descends and tilts to herd the dancers like sheep, a lighted globe that bowls along beside them like some alien force; a giant stick- insect mobile whose eerie presence threatens to steal the show. Gerald Barry's new piano quartet provides dense and stringent aural structures. Yet for all these catalysts, the dance fails to rise above an exercise in physical dynamics, full of signs and ciphers, but arid and unbeautiful.
In Affections, however, the human heart reasserts itself with a vengeance. Using the same forces, Davies reworks the gestural material of Trespass in the light of very different music (Handel arias) and feels her way once more towards that subtle fusing of feeling and form that makes her best work so compelling. From a high metal platform the singer Buddug Verona James directs her sumptuous mezzo to the dancers below, who seem to enter the very substance of the sound. During the elegiac "Cara sposa", dancer Gill Clarke snatches at imagined melismas of notes and examines her own responses - a hand passed over ear, or brow, or heart tells the story. Later the music proves so beguiling that another dancer stops stock-still and simply listens. There is dancey dance too, in luxurious stretches, balances and fleet-footed fractured unisons, and a feast of richly hued, sharply cut costumes. Hear and see; see, hear and feel. In Affections, Siobhan Davies achieves a correspondence the painters and poets never thought of: she makes a dancer's body sing.
Birmingham Rep (0121 236 4455), Fri & Sat; Belfast Stranmills (01232 665577), 14-16 Nov.Reuse content