With consummate trapeze

Zo Anderson
Saturday 30 August 1997 23:02

Momentary fusion's Stung was the big dance hit of the Fringe, heavily publicised and rewarded with packed houses. The dancing is based on and around ropes and a single trapeze, emphasising control rather than obviously hair-raising tricks. The moves are perfectly accomplished, and their timing is exact; but the first half of the show is arty rather than exciting. Dancers climb on ropes and off them again, without doing anything very memorable while suspended in the air.

Fortunately, a final pas de deux for Isabel Rocamora and Sophy Griffiths redeems the whole performance. They start by mirroring each other's movements, keeping a certain distance within their confined space. Gradually they become more daring, more ready to trust each other, letting themselves be caught and supported. The manoeuvres become a relationship, advanced and detailed with each catch and release. A microphone amplifies every breath, every sound of sliding rope. The gasps at each acceptance of trust, and the silences as they move apart, heighten the sense of drama without breaking the still composure of the dancing, which remains strangely serene. Their faces remain calm, their movements sensuous but fluidly smooth. The effect is hypnotic.

I have had reservations about Gandini Juggling Project, a circus skills company who combine dance and juggling. Their dance steps have sometimes looked oddly superfluous, as if added at the last minute to underline their mixture of genres. In Septet, however, the mixture cohered. The trajectories of objects thrown from hand to hand amplified and set off the dancing; arms curved, bodies turned, under spinning skittles. Gill Clarke's fast, intricate patterns looked faster and more intricate as the dancers kept balls in the air while rearranging themselves under them. But there are still less satisfying patches in the show. Extended preparation made some tricks anticlimactic, and there were too many false endings. Yet overall, this is a precisely ordered show, with attractive dancing and interesting choreography.

Compagnie Yvette Bozsik returned to the Fringe in characteristically peculiar form. The Wedding is a grotesque comedy. A couple and their families assemble to celebrate, all seething with inappropriate emotions. The choreography deals with the wandering minds of the party as they drift from the celebrations into violently indecorous dances. Bozsik uses folk-dance steps, but complicates them with odd shakes and lurches. Her dancers are marvellous, investing each twitch with a wealth of comic and psychological detail. Both families have the darkest suspicions of each other, and of their child's new partner; characters bundle their own relatives out of the way, indulging in other people's fantasies. Dances with their own partners are inflected according to relationship: the bride's parents join the young people' s dance with a weariness of spirit, and it is no surprise when the father (Tams Vati) rages against the loss of his daughter, against his own approaching age. The young women appear in idealised dances as he flails about the stage, and his solo is lost in a surprisingly lovely final dance.

Hommage Mary Wigman is a solo for Bozsik, based on the life and career of the German dancer. The vocabulary is simple, but dense with allusions and implications. The dance opens with her draped in white robes. She contrives to look at once like a bride and a vampire. As her draperies slide off, they hang from her like the unravelled sleeves of a straitjacket. And as the solo proceeds, she goes through various transformations: a masked orientalist dancer, moving her covered head as if it weren't quite attached to her body; a more formal dancer, dignified in stiff silk. These represent different stages of Wigman's career and personal life, but you don't need to know that. Hommage is a dance about transformation, about refining and essence. By the end, plain and simple steps are suffused with a sense of what has gone before.

Jenny Gilbert returns next week.

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