Heavier Than Milk [FringeTIX]
[one8in] Dance Collective @ Gravity Studios
8:00pm, Sat 20 Feb 2010
Hopes were high when I arrived at Gravity Studios; the Heavier Than Milk programme looked very professional, and the eight pieces to be performed were presented in the form of a menu, as a series of courses. There was a curious shot of milk available for necking at the door, then upstairs to the performance space.
The first course was already in progress as we arrived: Sarah Glover sat scribbling on the principal wall of the space, as she did for the entire performance. Ummm… OK. The first dance piece felt like a lazy start, with plenty of movement but no real feeling of intent. There was a somewhat interesting exploration of space around a large cubic frame, however, and that bode well for upcoming pieces.
It’s a pity, then, that the following piece was utterly dire. Built around horrible characters dancing literally to Thou Shalt Always Kill (a decision which feels so utterly lazy I’m reluctant to even consider it to be choreography), this piece represented the turning point for Heavier Than Milk; from here, they took the express lane to Wrongville.
Jo Naumann’s “Milkshake” won me back briefly with a quirky giddy-chicken of an opening, and a few cute moments, before being let down by an appalling ending. I mean, really… “I’ve hurt my finger”? What the fuck were they thinking?
“Two Dollars” is a stumbling mess, only partially redeemed by some smooth movements and moments of real beauty in the subsequent “She Ain’t Heavy”. Unfortunately, the movie used as background for this piece had more of a lasting impact than most of the rest of the dance. And Jay Mullan’s Dessert Course film, “Morning After, In The Middle Of Nowhere” felt like it was cut with a meat cleaver – it may have been interesting had we seen any actual dance in the movie (which featured Jade Erlandsen – who I’ve got a lot of time for after last year’s Out of the Dark). The final piece featured film, some rear-projection shadows, and had a real feeling of energy about it – and then pissed any goodwill generated by those positives away with some ill-advised talking sequences.
This was my first visit to Gravity Studios and, while the space itself is great, the options for the audience are not. The layout of seating for Heavier Than Milk had two banks of three rows each; the big problem here is that there’s no elevation, so those sitting in the non-front rows – including myself – couldn’t see a fucking thing when the dancers moved low. Which, as you might imagine, was often. The constant scribblings seemed utterly pointless, too, given the almost complete lack of involvement in the dance pieces (only one of the dance “courses” had any interaction with The Scribbler).
In short: Heavier Than Milk was a complete mess. There were one or two glimpses of something attractive there, but they were swamped by a mass of poorly-conceived, self-indulgent crapulence. To say that this was a disappointment is a massive understatement.