Often with contemporary dance shows, you find yourself in a black box with no scenery and minimal lighting. A performer will step onto the floor in t-shirt and trackie bottoms, start talking in deeply nonsensical quotes and your heart will sink. This happened here when Takeshi Matsumoto started telling us all about the benefits of going for a good walk. While I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment, the sight of him and his four fellow dancers lying on the floor flapping their feet about did not bode well for the evening’s entertainment.
What usually happens in these types of show is that no matter how bad the start, there’s every opportunity for things to go downhill from there. …in the middle with you was rewarding in that once it got past an inane section where the performers threw bits of clothes onto the floor in order to move around, it actually contained some pretty good stuff.
The dancers seemed to be fighting against the concept of being attached to the ground. They started off mainly on the floor, then were desperately trying not to touch it, then submitted fully to it before finally achieving full flight. It was these last two elements that caught the attention.
First Sophie Arstall began clambering over the backs of the other dancers, creating some lovely and inventive group shapes as she reached for the sky. These attempts were echoed at the close when the joy and freedom of being lifted above everyone else was revealed in the ecstatic faces of those being held aloft.
The best part, however, was when all five dancers slid themselves across the floor like slugs with grawling, gnarly, twisted gestures that hoiked their bodies up and away from the ground until gravity overcame human strength and pushed them down again. It was absorbing to watch.
David Leahy’s music too played a part. At first there was no sound, then an unchanging synth string thing. Eventually it all got sorted out into a simple guitar melody which, through sheer repetition and subtle variations, dug itself into the very fabric of the choreography. They worked well together.
And actually, you know what? Everything turned out alright in the end.
…in the middle with you is touring across the UK until 16 June 2015. For more info try the attractive Hagit Yakira Dance website.