Pros: Variety and humour in works by established international choreographers.
Cons: The theatre is housed in a building that lacks warmth and atmosphere.
Trinity Laban is a world class conservatoire for dance and music. Transitions, their graduate dance company, was founded in 1982 to help emerging dancers bridge the gap between training and professional life. It functions in every respect as a professional company, and auditions not only Laban graduates but also dancers from other training programs.
Transition’s Triple Bill 2017 is presented in the conservatoire’s three hundred seat theatre. Housed in the Laban building, it’s an imposing and shiny modern structure designed by Herzog and de Meuron of Tate Modern fame. Perhaps inevitably, despite the high level of professionalism it was difficult to shake off the atmosphere of a graduate showcase. This was the company on its home turf, and the audience was full of supportive fellow dancers keen to show their appreciation with lots of whooping and cheering. It did get a bit much at times.
The company of twelve dancers performed new works created in collaboration with three established choreographers. Each piece had original music. First up was Nothing But Time choreographed by Charles Lineham. I think this piece suffered by being billed first. It had a subtle, economical movement vocabulary, and a quiet intensity which has stayed with me. But it didn’t seem to land well in the excitable theatre and I found myself distracted at times by the luminous green fire exit signs at the back of the stage. Surely in such a high-spec theatre there’s a way to conceal these.
Next up was Kintsugi choreographed by Oded Ronen. The Japanese art of repairing broken ceramics was referenced in the yellow dust that littered the stage. This piece saw the dancers marshalling the dust into zigzagging lines, or scattering it into the air. The music (Ronen Kozokaro) moved through moods with the piece – at times an achingly emotional violin and piano, at others bleak electronica. Dancers slithered, jerked and panted through a lonely landscape that hinted at a post-apocalyptic world. A duet between the diminutive Giannis Economides and taller Sean Murray provided moments of tenderness and delightfully unpredictable partnering; I found myself wondering who was lifting who as they transitioned so skilfully. Viva Foster’s solo also commanded attention. Her deeply absorbed commitment illuminated the choreography to memorable effect.
The final piece – & by Christian Duarte – was the most theatrically interesting. With shades of Twin Peaks the dancers held fixed grins and leers, moving in sustained slow motion to a pulsing electronic score. The tone was both humorous and sinister as dancers came crawling and seeping into the audience. In an act of truly weird comedy, Osian Meilir descended a set of stairs lying down, backwards, all the while staring pointedly at the audience. Becky Horne responded with charming spontaneity to what can only be described as a furniture malfunction.
The training at Laban is world class and it was satisfying to see these talented dancers perform in a varied bill which allowed them to show range as performers.
Transitions Artistic Director: David Waring
Booking Until: 2 June 2017
Box Office: 020 8463 0100
Booking Link: https://www.trinitylaban.ac.uk/whats-on/dance-events/transitions-dance-company-triple-bill-2017-1