Resolution review 29 Jan 2016: Exim, LAM, Backspace

Exim Dance Company: The Birth of Memory
LAM Dance Company: Sisyphus’ Wife
Backspace Collective: Unbaptised Infants

In The Birth of Memory, a work with purpose in its stride, four dancers shift and play between different spatial configurations of Benjamin’s bare-boned choreography. Added to this are layers of projections – sometimes words, sometimes abstract imagery that has hints of radiographical imagery – and an atmospheric score of claustrophobic soundscapes. One of the dancers has cerebral palsy, and although the intrinsically abrupt nature of his movement offers an interesting contrast to the easy flow of the rest of the non-disabled cast, as well as some occasionally arresting imagery, the point of the whole exercise is never quite made clear.

Sisyphus’ Wife proposes to look at the labour of Camus’s Sisyphus, who in Greek mythology was punished for his self-aggrandisement by being forced to push a boulder up a hill for eternity. The lights come up onto Look, as Sisyphus, enacting the above with a petanque-like ball on a small ramp. Dance solo. His wife appears holding an (as-yet) unindentified wooden object. More langorous solos and duests ensue, in which, true to the German Tanztheater form, limbs are extended and yanked, chests swaying, evoking vast Mahleresque landscapes. The transitional sections – the ball, the ramp, the emoting – sadly never quite transcend the mundane, and the choreographic moments, although performed with gusto, fail to convince.

Two women in tracksuit bottoms and disco tops, a mic, a couple of chairs – all we’ve now come to expect from Western contemporary dance circa 2016. Unbaptised Infants kicks off with some quirky poems, soon followed by dance, as both women adroitely nudge and cut their way through the space in some elegantly structured and phrased choreography. Gradually, the poems that initially irritate with smug cuteness come to serve a larger purpose as the duo take it in turns to dance, and speak and sing onto an ever-expanding sound loop. Clarity of structure appears; neither choreographer knows yet to what purpose, but intelligence shines thoughout.

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