The Decade – Bare Bones: Linbury Studio Theatre, London, 8 October 2011

No skeletons in this closet

Nice pants. Bare Bones doing exactly what it says on the tin.

The touring arm of Dance Exchange, Bare Bones, are celebrating ten years of existence by presenting five works from its impressive rosta of collaborating choreographers. And to close this woefully factual paragraph I can tell you that The Decade is a den of deconstruction.

Jasmin Vardimon’s male duet Sabbat took in all four corners of the stage and on its first lap appeared to be a highly combustible gay relationship set to a tetchy soundtrack of scratches. The second lap repeated the same choreography but was transformed by the introduction of the two dancers, David Lloyd and Estéban Fourmi, arguing verbally over a football match. I’ll never watch the homoerotic hugs showered on a Premier League goalscorer in quite the same way again.

Carol Brown’s Maybe, despite Omar Gordon and Suzanne Firth’s best efforts, never got off the ground – in fact they spent most of their zero-gravity desires pressed close to it.

Quite unexpectedly things turned funny here-on-in. Hofesh Shechter started it. Untitled has his dry dulcet tones ‘guiding’ the audience through the work. That is until he loses his dancer (the excellent Victoria Hoyland) who strops off at the start of Part 3 never to return.

Luca Silvestrini carries on the farce in To The Bone, an amusingly mimed breakdown of a relationship where the two protagonists still end up literally in each others pants.

The final work, Charlotte Vincent’s Straight Talking was more of a play than a piece of dance. In fact, it was a play about not dancing as the splendidly gawky Kip Johnson told us. After a lengthy monologue about what he was going to do (break boundaries) and what he was not (no dancing, no questions) he performed a short bout of gnarly spastic contortions that remained within the tight boundary of his marked square and posed plenty of questions. He then apologised profusely and left to great applause. He was aiming to get ‘beyond the beautiful dance’ and he succeeded with some conviction.

Set in the round to inevitably minimal lighting and almost entirely non-existent staging there was a welcome intimacy and, at times, a genuine tension to the night (the leg-crossing and bum-shifting that occurred during Untitled when the audience were confronted with the fact there was nothing to look at but each other was excrutiating). Above all it was good to see some contemporary choreographers having a bit of a laugh with what is often seen as an indecipherably arty-farty discipline.

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