Bunty Matthias explains her new philosophy in the flyer for her latest work, Viewpoint. "Though dance and architecture seem an unlikely marriage," she writes, "buildings are sterile without people, dancers rootless without space." This is a rather wobbly bit of logic, given that dancers can hardly fail to be performing in a space that's also a building. But that is how Matthias chooses to justify commissioning "two vast, interlocking staircases" from London architects Wells Mackereth.
Too bad the staircases turn out to be modest blocks of library steps, their "interlocking" merely the clunk-click of colliding castors. Far from providing a grand and glamorous platform for dancers to swarm over, their dimensions are so mingy that only one dancer at a time can pose gingerly on each tread. With all six of the company in place - the chaps with their glistening bare chests, the women in Persil-white sports shorts - the first section of the show has the look of an Olympic medal ceremony, with all the smugness and half the dynamism. The athletes' anthem is a disco drawl of the words "Ah am ... saddisfied" - not a sentiment shared by the critic.
Things improve when the dancers climb down from their trolleys. Now they shoot from the wings in twos and threes to perform punishing two- minute flashes of choreography based on press-ups, frog-squats, crab-runs and asymmetrical leg-cockings. It's fun and it looks sharp, although it must be said that shiny white- Lycra buttocks, however firmly muscled, never escape looking like party balloons.
More lyrical but less convincing is a scene in which three women appear, each holding a white cotton sheet which they shake out, fold and re-fold repeatedly like laundry maids on piecework. When the men take up the white- on-white theme, they use their sheets as beach mats for lounging on, or cushions for skidding about the floor. But symbolism sits uncomfortably in a dance show that's more about sensation than thought.
Matthias, meanwhile, reclines on her plinth like a sphinx, tilting that amazing Nefertiti head, and only now and then condescending to dance, shafting her long, lean limbs through unhurried formulae that tend more to the Siobhan Davies school of pensive balance than the gym-bashing of her colleagues. Her body is her company's best asset; it may be this that prompts her to strip at the end. I can think of no other reason, unless she was hot, or unless it was a nod to those old voyeurs.Reuse content