Ricochet Dance Company, The Place, London

Imagine David inviting Goliath round to play

Jenny Gilbert
Sunday 15 December 2013 03:43

If underfunding doesn't kill off independent dance groups, then physical exhaustion generally does. Which makes the five-dancer, no-choreographer outfit known as Ricochet something of a little miracle, still going strong after 13 years. What's special, even unique, about Ricochet is that, small as it is, it pitches itself at the highest level, commissioning work from choreographers of international stature. Imagine David inviting Goliath round to play. But then witness the ferocious skill and commitment Ricochet brings to its projects, and it's no surprise that these big boys are coming back for more.

House of Magnet is the company's second commission from New Yorker Stephen Petronio, and it shows Ricochet's performers at their most marvellously sleek and compelling. The work hinges on the invisible force that drives people together or flings them apart. Dressed in semi-transparent black outfits, whose cut-out derrières recall characters in a Buñuel film, the dancers are unable to detach themselves from one another, doomed to wriggle and jiggle, slump and flow together as if built into the same electric circuit.

David Linton's scorching music drives the movement at the kind of foot-on-the-floor speed that leaves even the most placid spectator braced for a crash. Individuals briefly break loose to engage in separate struggles, but before long they slip back into the same old closed circuit, collapsing in on each other like dominoes. As a picture of dysfunctional human relations, it is desperately apt.

Its companion piece is less combustive, more reflective. Neil Greenberg's POV (Point of View) is part exercise in perception, part skit on the film noir classic Double Indemnity. Often, the use of video with dance is no more than decorative. But here it creates a genuine mind-teaser: it's like simultaneously witnessing a film being shot and the finished product. Tripod cameras record the three dancers' live action, inspired by the Double Indemnity screenplay. But footage of the choreographer dancing in New York keeps overlaying their contribution on screen – a reminder that he is the creator/ screenwriter/ one who calls the shots; the performers are merely puppets.

Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds (01284 769505), Tue; Corn Exchange, Newbury (01635 522733), Thur; and touring


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