Home » Reviews » Dance » Strange Blooms & Configurations, Southbank Centre – Review
Credit: Tristram Kenton for The Observer
Credit: Tristram Kenton for The Observer

Strange Blooms & Configurations, Southbank Centre – Review

Pros: Refreshing, intelligent and compelling choreography with the added treat of a live string quartet.

Cons: The pieces lacked the visceral component that I expect and appreciate from dance.

Pros: Refreshing, intelligent and compelling choreography with the added treat of a live string quartet. Cons: The pieces lacked the visceral component that I expect and appreciate from dance. While words and language can often be the most compelling part of a play, sometimes stage performance can be even more intriguing without them. The opportunity to interpret and experience a story through physicality can be an invigorating and welcome change from being dictated a story through verbal language. This evening of dance is composed of two pieces by choreographer Shobana Jeyasingh. The first, Configurations, is a reprise of Jeyasingh's first…

Summary

Rating

Excellent

Perfect for those looking for something different in dance. Stunning works of ingenuity.

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While words and language can often be the most compelling part of a play, sometimes stage performance can be even more intriguing without them. The opportunity to interpret and experience a story through physicality can be an invigorating and welcome change from being dictated a story through verbal language.

This evening of dance is composed of two pieces by choreographer Shobana Jeyasingh. The first, Configurations, is a reprise of Jeyasingh’s first choreographic work from 25 years ago created in the classical Indian style of Bharata Natyam, and performed to a string quartet playing live on stage. Comprised of several episodes, the dance is percussive, with dancers interacting with the rhythm of the music by stomping their feet, and is detailed and sharp in its delivery. Audience members should not feel intimidated by the classical, and potentially unfamiliar, genre of this dance; the unusual movement is entrancing, bringing the delight that comes only from discovering something new to you. The partnership between the dancers and live musicians was stunning – thrilling even. The performers captivate their audience as they watch the growth of what becomes one living organism.

Jeyasingh’s second and newest piece, Strange Blooms, was inspired by the cellular processes of plant life. It is amazing how something seemingly so unrelated to the artistic world can offer such a creative narrative for the stage. The choreography was very different in style to the first with lots of staccato movement that made you feel as if you were holding a magnifying glass to a molecule. The pair work of this athletic dance was particularly impressive as partners of both mixed and same gender combinations lifted and moved each other through the space.The articulate and precise choreography of Strange Blooms was immaculate. How all the small, detailed and exact movements are strung together to create a single cohesive performance is particularly mind blowing. However, the moving projections used as the backdrop to the piece did not interact with the dancers as successfully as the live quartet in the first piece, nor did they add any extra layer of depth. That is until, perhaps, the end when a final projection implies a similarity between plant processes and human evolution. Interestingly, the word used in the programme to describe.

Configurations is ‘logical’, which is a characteristic I would apply to both pieces that were more academic than instinctive. Each lacked a certain visceral, emotive pull and tug at the heart that I have come to expect and enjoy from dance. Despite this, it is clear that both works are born from a brilliant and creatively articulate mind. Watching these incredibly skilled and talented dancers perform both was not only enjoyable but spectacular.

Creator & Choreographer: Shobana Jeyasingh
Booking Until: 4th December 2013
More Information: www.shobanajeyasingh.co.uk/25years/

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