We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun
I saw James Cousins’ There We Have Been at its premiere at Sadler’s Wells in September 2012. At the time I thought it was a superb piece but too long. Watching it again nine months later in the more earthy surroundings of London’s The Place, it was simply astonishing. With the dancing even sharper and the staging tightened up it never once dragged.
The emotional and physical connection between the two performers, Lisa Welham and Aaron Vickers, has developed to such a degree that it seemed only natural that she shouldn’t touch the floor once for the entire 17 minutes. The choreography that spins its way around that physical constraint is both lyrical and absorbing in its own right and the strength and unhurried control displayed by both dancers was exemplary. There We Have Been is a piece that would grace any major dance company, although whether any other lead pairing would be able to capture the dramatic intensity of Welham and Vickers is probably questionable.
Inevitably, the other two pieces on display didn’t reach the standards of Cousins’ opus. Robert Clark’s Amstatten was a disarming study on the privations of being a hostage/kidnap victim. Squeezed into a small single-bed sized rectangle of light, Louise Tanoto’s necessarily claustrophobically twitchy movement somehow didn’t quite capture a sense of containment – although she wasn’t helped by the fact she seemed able to regularly step outside her prison into the surrounding darkness only to keep returning of her own free-will.
Still, The Sound of Music-style whirling at the thought of the natural world beyond was an unexpected delight and there was a fantastically spooky moment where a barely visible (and unheralded and unmentioned) figure stood briefly behind her, never to return. At least, I think there was someone there.
James Wilton’s In Cycles claims to explore Hindu philosophy of re-incarnation. In what way was not entirely clear as it looked like pretty standard introspective contemporary dance musing.
Wilton himself performed the piece; he’s a highly fluid, acrobatic dancer and he made In Cycles looked undeniably beautiful at times. However, moves merged into each other at such a regularly smooth tempo that no images really were given time to stick in the brain apart from one right at the end when he looked like a goalkeeper trying to save a penalty – I assume that was not the effect he was after. The interestingly left-field choice of the Germanic growls of Einsturzende Neubauten for the music may not actually have helped in its rhythmic fidelity.