Pros: A vibrant showcase for the rising stars of contemporary dance.
Cons: It remains to be proven whether the newly devised works have longevity.
The Place centre for contemporary dance is a world-class, purpose-built centre home to the London Contemporary Dance School conservatoire. It also includes studio spaces, a state of the art 300 seat dance theatre and a relaxed front of house café-bar. The centre played host to the London Contemporary Dance School’s hotly anticipated End of Year performances. Each night aimed to present a different programme of work performed by the 2014 class of Post Graduate and BA (hons) students. Cutting edge choreography for the evening performances came from The Place artistic director Richard Alston, alongside new pieces by Tony Adigun, Darren Ellis, Wayne Parsons and Eva Recacha.
The Place has a lot going for it as a venue. The immaculate state of the art Robin Howard Dance Theatre provides a comfortable and seamless stage view. On Friday, the front of house bar had an electric atmosphere as students chattered excitedly while awaiting their friends’ debut performances. Many had spilled out front to enjoy a cold drink and the last of the evening sun before the curtain call. For newcomers to the Place and those new to contemporary dance, such as myself, the specially devised performances offered a unique and exciting opportunity to see the best emerging new dance talent the capital has to offer. And the 90 minute run was a perfect sampler of what the school has to offer.
Upon opening the audience were warmed up with two student devised short films, Organic Matter and Shadower. The first, which made use of time delays and stop motion, was playful and irreverent. The second depicted a more dystopian reality, as students danced within close confines of warehouse walls and electrical equipment.
The duet Around by Florencia Martina, provided a commanding opening piece. Danced to the sound of Maria Callas piping out Bizet, the two dancers (Anders Duckworth and Ajani Johnson-Goffe) played cat and mouse as they circled each other with light lift work and sparring gestures. This was a piece full of humour, drama and control, evocative of inner struggle and rumination.
The second performance Cedar Shakes, by Darren Ellis, was an eight strong assemble performance, featuring students with Postgraduate diplomas in Advanced Dance Studies. A work with a contemporary folksy harvest vibe, it was played with joyous abandon and ran the gamut from light to dark in emotional range. Dressed in muted primary colours, the raw energy and skill on display in this complex piece delighted the audience, especially during the many solo and duet segments.
After the interval, and the laying of new neon-lit soft flooring, the third performance was a showstopper piece by Richard Aston featuring world music and the talents of ten diverse students dancing their hearts out in pairs, across borders and continents with all the sexual energy and sunshine of the Rio carnival. The yellow glow of the stage lighting gave the performance a timeless aged quality.
The Farewell, by Eva Recacha was the highlight of the evening and featured all of the students dressed in modern beach wear pulsing in unison to contemporary dance beats on a bright green neon lit stage. The opening, featuring two students hopping along the stage on a mock blow up palm tree provided a lot of laughter. From there it became an edgy and brilliantly choreographed human zoo of dance, as the students were awoken from the floor to their feet by the irrepressible urge to be taken by the rhythm of the beat. They seemed finally able to let loose and display their individuality. A joy to watch!
If you aren’t able to make any of the performances this week, they available online through a live feed.
Choreographers: Tony Adigun, Richard Alston, Darren Ellis, Wayne Parsons, Eva Recacha
Booking Link: http://www.theplace.org.uk/performances
Booking Until: 4th – 11th July 2014
Live Link: http://www.lcds.ac.uk/live