Out of the Dark [FringeTIX]
Jade Erlandsen & Company @ SA German Association
12:00pm, Tue 3 Mar 2009
Bloody hell, this was good.
I should preface this by saying, as I usually do, that I know nothing about dance. I don’t understand what makes a particular piece of dance good or bad; I just react to what emotes me, what movements thrill me, what causes a reaction.
I wind up saying that just about every time I write about a dance piece; maybe I should make that a standard disclaimer somewhere. Ahem.
But back to Out of the Dark.
There’s a great space atop the SA German Association that looks like it was just made for performances like this; a large open hall, as we enter it there’s about sixty seats around the outside of the room, in the round. The lights go off, and we’re in a dim twilight; the dancers appear, and travel in waves up and down the length of the room to some suitably murky ambient beats. There’s something distinctly organic about their movements; it’s not a synchronised piece except by suggestion, with all dancers performing approximately the same movements, but in their own time, to their own rhythm. Up and back, up and back… it’s mesmerising.
A change in music leads to a change in style – now the eight dancers are clumped in pairs, one blindfolded, the other guiding their movements. The pairs interact in the dimness, swapping partners with flings across open space – close encounters a-plenty. It’s genuinely exciting, with clever choreography and a real sense of spectacle.
A short break ensues – we’re pushed from the performance space and, when we return, we discover that all the seating is now back-to-back in a single line down the middle of the room. A caustic industrial tune starts, and suddenly the dancers are parading around the outside of our little island of seats. We’re armed with little flashlights, we’re free to use them to highlight the aspects that interest us, but there’s little need – such is the incredible dynamism of movement (dancers running, twisting, posing, interacting with each other) that it was too easy to get lost in what was being presented, rather than having to hunt with your little beam of light. The tempo and intensity seems to drop when Red Right Hand comes on, though, with a piece that felt a little too free-form, unfocussed, but the following piece picks up the tempo again with light-bulbs being slid around the room in an odd piece that still managed to engage.
As I mentioned at the start, I loved this performance – the opening piece after the interval was worth the cost of admission alone, such was the energy produced. And the dancers – well, they were uniformly great, with special call-outs to (who I presume are) the two leads: the girl with the red hair (I sat next to her step-mum, who was proud as punch), and That Guy. Blimey, they were impressive. Roll in some exciting choreography, a decent bedrock of music, and you’ve got some fantastic contemporary dance :)