The two white staircases that provide the set for Viewpoint were brought into being by the combined creative talents of the architects Wells Mackereth. If this leads you to think in terms of the glass stairs at the V&A or something sinuous and spectacular a la Ziegfeld calm down. We're talking British Caledonian. However, although "architecture" may be a pretentious description for them, Wells Mackereth's stairs, Schoerner's projections and Mark Ridler's mercurial lighting design form a stylish framework for the choreography. Perhaps more stylish than it deserves.
In the past, Matthias's work has been criticised for relying too heavily on the charms of designers and musicians at the expense of choreographic invention. She and her new co-artistic director, Annabel Haydn, have apparently been working hard to correct this imbalance. The designs are spare, the costumes plain white. The men sport white pyjama bottoms and the women white cycling shorts. It is a fact seldom acknowledged that white Lycra cycling shorts, however splendid the contents, tend to resemble long-line 18-hour girdles. Suitably corseted, they beetle about the floor on all fours to Noel Watson's score which at times resembles a sample taken by flicking the dial between Hilversum and Oslo. The dancers perform separately at first as if rehearsing sequences of movement like an orchestra tuning up. Tired of this, they each bring on a white sheet which they begin to fold and unfold like demented laundresses, pairing the wrong corners together and getting their legs caught in the drapery. At first the men simply pose on their sheets, lying down as if to catch a few rays of Mark Ridler's warm sidelights but they too have their work to do and are soon to be seen slowly polishing the floor.
The motif of people bent double seems curiously central to the 50-minute work. Dancers seldom stay upright for long before a hand hits the floor to act as a prop or as the pivot for an impressive one-handed cartwheel. Legs are cocked repeatedly. This movement and the endless bunny-jumps probably work wonders for the backs of the thighs but did very little for me. Matthias and Haydn's fondness for having the dancers scuttle on and off stage gives the dance a strangely undecided air.
The minimalist styling and anonymously modern music seems literally to borrow the clothes of more assured artists such as Davies or Booth but the comparison ends there. Without worthwhile choreography, the acquisition of fashionable good taste is mere window-dressing.Reuse content