Zoi Dimitriou’s You May! is inspired by Chris Marker’s film of black and white stills, La Jetée (also one of the kick-off points for Melanie Wilson’s Iris Brunette). However, it owes a much more transparent debt to Ivana Müller’s While We Were Holding It Together, at points employing the exact same formulation of starting all the sentences with the same words, simply replacing “I imagine…” with “You may…”. Where Müller’s piece trusts to the power of speech and near-miraculous restraint, Dimitriou’s piece flings itself about in what feels like a frantic search for *more stuff*.
The show is essentially a piece of choreography, or rather, in its current form, a compilation tape of choreographies, and one that feels distinctly episodic. Much of its content seems triggered by its soundtrack (original composition by Andy Pink), which consists of very specific song-length pieces. The soundtrack itself contributes to this feeling of bittiness, lacking any real sense of a coherent style, instead resembling a sound artist trying out a lot of different ideas and seeing which ones stick. To be fair, piece-by-piece, a lot of it *sticks*. It’s pretty good stuff. Maybe a bit under-produced, but that has its charm, and, oddly, a lot of it also reminded me of off-cuts from the run-in or run-out tracks of my (very old, much-neglected) record collection: here, the fuzzy noise before I Don’t Want To Get Over You; there, the stark electronic drum introduction to Head Like a Hole; I was even reminded of a few bits of Bauhaus. Not the songs, you understand, just little moments, looped and interfered-with by white noise and slightly distorted recorded speech.
Ingrid Hu’s sculptural stage is very pretty to look at as you sit waiting for the thing to start – ten poles standing or hung from the ceiling, each ended with a scrunched-up paper ball of varying sizes, looking like giant, uncomfortable Q-tips or chic standard lamps. However, to remain properly pretty, they apparently needed to remain under rather low lighting and Chahine Yavroyan’s lighting design is probably the show’s weakest link; blacking out, over-lighting, offering badly focused light corridors, or blandly pretty blue washes with peach highlights. It’s underdeveloped, and another contributor to the show’s episodic problem.
This was meant to be a piece of dance, right? And so far I haven’t said anything about the choreography.
In common with the music and lighting states, it seemed abundant and similarly various. The first “track” involved the two dancers Zoi Dimitriou and Andrew Graham gradually bending spasmodically at the waist; Zoi counted up from one to nine and Andrew did the tens. After they got to sixty, numbers were missed, and Andrew counted down from five to one. Later there is text about a man standing on a roof waiting to jump and a crowd gathering below to watch.
I want to avoid using the word “derivative” of the choreography, but, well-executed though it was, I’ve seen a lot of things a lot like it before. I know Pina Bausch casts a long shadow, but, well, this isn’t unlike her oeuvre (yes, most of it). Ditto Alain Platel. The territory we’re in here was not unlike a slowed down, more sensual version of early Frantic Assembly; much of the material looking like it had come from contact improvisation. One dancer low to the floor, perhaps crouched on, or arched off the floor, and the other rolling across their back, or being passed over. There is also solo work that tends toward the fluid and balletic, but it’s also jerky and twitchy. What there isn’t any of, is the pyrotechnical or violent end of things, nor is there any of the ultra minimalist, barely-dancing-at-all school of contemporary dance.
Zoi Dimitriou is clearly a talented dancer and an able choreographer. In its present form, the dramaturgy of the piece didn’t speak much to me, but that could well be as much due to my taste as to any deficiency in the piece.