Showtime – Cloud Dance Festival: Bernie Grant Arts Centre, London, 17 November 2013

The Silver Linings

Avatara Ayuso wonders if she's shrunk or whether she's stumbled into the web of a really, really big spider. Photo by Ana García Segura

Avatara Ayuso wonders if she’s shrunk or whether she’s stumbled into the web of a really, really big spider. Photo by Ana García Segura

Tirelessly creating essential opportunities for young choreographers to present their work, Cloud Dance Festival descended on the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham, London, for a long weekend of new and new-ish works. The concluding Sunday evening Showtime performances revealed a more refreshingly varied set of perspectives than is sometimes the case in programmes of new contemporary dance.

The two most polished pieces both came from the fertile mind of Avatâra Ayuso. Balikbayan is a work in progress and was a grippingly contrary affair. In constant conflict with its (hopefully) deliberately infuriating voiceover, the astonishing Estela Merlos contorted her body into all sorts of vicious positions before repeatedly slapping the inside of her thighs. Although the middle section where Merlos ran around the stage with her skirt falling round her ankles seemed a bit out of place Balikbayan, and Merlos, grabbed the attention and kept it rapt.

Ayuso’s second piece Dalcroze was receiving its UK premiere. A solo performed by the choreographer herself to an exhilarating soundtrack of Japanese drumming, Dalcroze was seven minutes of mesmerising timing and exquisite body movement.

John Ross Dance came up with a neat idea for Wolfpack; four blokes are out on the razzle when it all goes horribly wrong. Initially, the quartet’s antics are funny as they recreate every crap Saturday night dance move (they don’t spare on the wobbly bellies and snaky eyebrows) but things take a turn for the worse when one of them overdoses after thinking he’s superman. Wolfpack needs some serious editing but it’s an unusual and interesting idea delivered with cheeky humour and a good deal of pathos at its conclusion.

Of the rest of the night’s pieces Kirill Burlov’s Untitled Work was a beautifully costumed Gothic duel between the jittery fidgets of Burlov and the demonically quick fingers of violinist Satoko Fukuda, Simfra Dance Company’s homoerotic erotic duet Don’t Let Me Go was a well-performed tribute to companionship and trust and in theMiddletonCorpus’ Manuum, Anthony Middleton demonstrated a series of well-honed balances but was ultimately outshone by his tiny wooden mannequin’s curtain call.

Jo Meredith’s Chimera was ambitious in theme and intent but the choreography failed to live up to the magical promise of the lengthy narration while Taciturn’s Femme had some interesting choreography in the push and shove of its final movement but just couldn’t compete with the great music that accompanied it.

Gerard Davis

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