Disappearing in the spotlight
An honourable annual mash-up showcasing new work developed at the Royal Opera House, this year’s Exposure: Dance was a bit of a let-down.
It started engagingly enough with Ilona Jäntti’s solo work Handspun which made an interesting, if overstretched, case for aerialism as dance. Surprisingly graceful, it was most effective in the frozen photographic imagery that permeated the piece rather than in the movement, although moments such as when she tumbled down her rope from the ceiling were often rather beautiful. The mournful cello that accompanied her, however, prolonged the stasis when something more diverting was required.
I obviously missed the joke in Gary Clarke’s 2 Men & A Michael. I didn’t find the be-spectacled Gilbert & George duo in spotty boxer shorts playing pat-a-cake remotely funny though plenty around me did. The ‘ironic’ nerdy twee-ness portrayed is just as snobbily introverted as the parochial Britishness they’re trying to subvert. I liked the music though and their impression of Big Ben nearly got my lips to curl upwards.
What turned out to be the highlight of the night was unfortunately the nominated guest act (a different company is promised for each night of the short run) and was therefore merely a short extract. Boy Blue Entertainment’s Krump-Buck_Amp was packed with energy, imagination and, horror of horrors, unfettered dancing. More of this would have been most welcome.
Alexander Whitley is a highly considered new choreographer but his Mythos/Logos was plain dull with lots of one-paced movement swirling away to no great effect. One of the trio of dancers looked cross.
Appropriately somehow the evening closed with the chaotic shambles of Jorge Crecis’ numerically precise 36. Including an extended water-bottle based game of basketball its most compelling feature was watching to see if any of the dancers would get whacked in the head by the flying plastic bottles. Things improved once they stopped pratting around and got stuck into some energetic street stomps but the erratic ensemble work let them down here as well.
Boy Blue Entertainment apart all the night’s works were too long and earnest – a smile or two wouldn’t have gone amiss. A strange fear of movement seemed to take hold of most of the pieces; it was mainly about what was kept locked inside the dancers rather than what was being physically expressed. Oh well, you win some, you lose some and at least it was only a tenner to get in.