2Faced Dance, under the artistic direction of Tasmin Fitzgerald, are committed to commissioning works by female choreographers. Their current triple-bill RUN sees this all-male company perform three works by women, including Fitzgerald herself. With the current discussion around the lack of female choreographers in the dance industry, it’s a programme that you desperately want to be successful; with the physical strength and versatility of these dancers, there’s certainly the potential for some great choreography.
Yet RUN is the kind of triple-bill that evokes a mixed reaction. The opening work bodes well, Tamsin Fitzgerald’s From Above making full use of her dancers’ abilities. In the company’s distinctive style, four men fly across the space, diving, rolling, throwing themselves at thin air and at each other. It’s strong, masculine movement, charged with energy, yet performed with sublime control.
This explosive rush plays out beneath three white-light boxes suspended over the stage. Intermittently, these large rectangular panels are raised and lowered by the dancers, pulled into position by heavy, clanking chains. Their encroaching presence creates a growing intensity that transfers to the company’s movements, and in the resulting tension, in the glimpsed relationships between the dancers, there’s a real sense of the emotions that drive this piece. They are somewhat masked, though, by its adrenalin-fuelled movement. The company’s forte lies in their duet work. Here, bodies meld, the transfer of weight imperceptible as the supporter becomes the supported. It’s intricate and exciting choreography, gripping to watch.
Yet we are left to read into it all what we will. While the sense of an idea can sometimes be enough, the level of intensity to this work, especially in its closing moments, implies there is a story to tell, a meaning to be revealed. And with that in mind, the emotions lurking behind From Above could be brought into stronger focus.
It’s a promising opening, but the two accompanying works do not quite achieve the same level of intensity. Rebecca Evans’ The Other takes a calmer approach. Five lanterns cast pools of soft light which, in conjunction with Bachar Mar-Khalife’s folk-style songs, creates a mystical yet earthy feel. As dancers Jason Boyle and Jack Humphrey move the lanterns about the space, their movements caught between light and shadow, they are at once playful and serious. They pay careful attention to the lamps, as if they are something precious and, when Boyle tosses them into the air with careless abandon, Humphrey dives to catch them.
The relationship between the duo is somewhat uncertain. Boyle appears to be dominant, a latent violence tangible in his attitude towards Humphrey. While the power-play of their relationship is an intriguing notion, its ambiguity is never really resolved. The Other plays with this notion of fear and achieves a beguiling atmosphere, particularly in the fall of the light upon the dancers’ bodies, but you wish Evans’ could have drawn a little more from her dancers’ relationship. Still, there is something intriguing in this work’s calm and quiet approach.
Lenka Vagnerova’s Fallen Angels is the closing piece. From the moment a carved hunting horn’s blast calls the company to action, the audience are hit with a maelstrom of ideas. Water bottles, gathered at the sides of the stage, are passed between the dancers, drank from, and dropped upon the floor. At some points, the company appears drunk, at others, they seem to have transformed into wild creatures.
It feels vaguely Dionysian, and there’s an eerie, brooding quality that sometimes pulls the work together, but mostly the oddity seems there for the sake of it: a trippy tangle of images, which the company do well to fill with some level of integrity. At one point the work seems to have ended, but then a new idea springs forth – a rather beautiful, if disconnected, image of dancer Ed Warner, sprawled beneath a huge pair of feathered wings. With disjointed movement, he struggles back to life, the fallen angel of the title – a final moment of clarity, all too late. Somewhere within Fallen Angels, there is a beautiful vision, but it gets lost amid an untamed mass of ideas.
While 2Faced Dance are undoubtedly a talented company, RUN doesn’t quite live up to its promise. For all their drive, energy and full-hearted commitment, not every work in this triple-bill holds the attention.
RUN is on tour until May 11th. For more details, click here.