Reviews Dance Published 14 March 2014

The Falling Song

Laban Theatre ⋄ 11th March 2014

A manifest sense of physicality.

Sara Veale

The Falling Song is an ambitious and wonderfully weird piece of dance theatre. Ripe with experimental choreography and a hint of self-possession, the one-act work calls to mind the narrative ingenuity of Eleanor Catton’s The Rehearsal, navigating its central theme – the subtle differences between flying and falling – through a series of fragmented scenes with varying registers and degrees of theatricality. A recurring motif of apples, with their connotations of gravity and original sin, underscores the concept of consequence implicit in the piece.

A manifest sense of physicality dominates the choreography, which sees the all-male cast constantly swooping and bounding around the stage, exploring all possible pairings and manoeuvring through some unorthodox partnerwork. The performers display a range of talent between them: Carl Harrison is fluid and animated in his every move, while Eddie Kay impresses with powerful core strength; meanwhile Omar Gordon’s classical training is visible in his crisp, smooth lines, and Jesse Kovarsky turns heads with his effervescent mien.

With two ladders and a handful of mattresses at their disposal, the dancers traverse spaces high and low, though their reliance on these props is thankfully kept to a minimum. In fact, the most impressive moves of The Falling Song take place sans scenic accompaniment, the dancing a sufficient narrative device of its own; still, the ladders do aid some arresting moments, including one unexpected bellyflop from the top rung that drew audible gasps from the audience.

The piece veers in tone as it progresses, shifting from farcical to grave in surprisingly organic fashion. The funniest parts are allotted to Kovarsky, who whips out a falsetto for a brassy rendition of “I’m Through With Love” and later dazzles (quite literally) in a sequin teal waistcoat as he mimes a jazzy figure skating routine. It’s the solemn scenes that resonate the most, however – the grounded quartet performed in tribal unison, for example, or the phrase in which two performers dance an entire sequence neck-to-neck, one whispering the dark, subconscious thoughts of the other.

Music assumes a central role in the piece and is incorporated in several veins. There’s a children’s choir that shuffles on periodically to fill the stage with euphonious song, its tiny members recruited to push apples around the stage in a climactic finale. A slapping phrase in which dancers use their bodies as instruments also proves an interesting addition. That said, it’s George Higgs, the show’s live musician, who drew the most applause with his fantastical and artfully operated musical machine, a clangorous hodgepodge of bike wheels and wind chimes and cowbells that smacks of steampunk oddity. The title of the work’s parent initiative, Incredibly Rare, feels especially relevant in light of his contribution.

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Sara Veale

Sara Veale is a London-based copy-editor, published poet and freelance arts critic. After studying dance and literature in her native North Carolina, she swapped the sunlit Land of the Pines for misty England in order to pursue an MA in English at UCL. These days she spends most of her time reading novels, churning out verse and chasing after buses. Her work has appeared across multiple print and online periodicals and in several poetry anthologies, including United Press' Poets in the Spotlight 2013.

The Falling Song Show Info


Produced by Junk Ensemble

Choreography by Jessica Kennedy and Megan Kennedy in collaboration with performers

Cast includes Omar Gordon, Carl Harrison, Eddie Kay, Jesse Kovarsky

Link http://www.junkensemble.com/

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