Catching up here it seems - thought I had posted these!
Company: Siobhan Davies Dance Company
What: Of oil and water
Where: London, Sadler's Wells
When: 18 October 2000
Quality, mannered dance from a contemporary choreographer with a small company of incredibly talented dancers. Wish the night had been longer than just 60 minutes though.
A last chance to see the Davies company for a while as they cease touring until 2002. The problem is the lack of a permanent base and Davies is clearly hoping to sort this out and to put the company on a more sound footing.
The comprehensive programme has a couple of stabs at what it is all about. Sanjoy Roy does the main introduction - its about oil and water not mixing and separating into layers. It goes on some more, coming perilously close to Pseud's Corner at times. But I have some sympathy - finding any sensible common vocabulary for contemporary work is rather fraught.
Orlando Gough, the composer, also describes where he is coming from, though surprisingly he does not talk about the contrast of voice and saxophone and how they mix, or separate into layers... too obvious I suppose.
All-in-all I think I must be too constipated, thick and/or un-hip to enter fully into the creative world of some who write about and enjoy modern dance... so I just watch.
Sets and Costumes
Black costumes against a mainly red back-cloth seemed OK. A travelator at the back of the stage made for some fine moments though. It did occur to me, somewhat irreverently, that it would be interesting to merge this and the recently unveiled Rambert '7DS' set, to give something incredibly high tech with both moving floors and walls...
Choreography and Dancers
Good grief, I actually did pick up on some of the oil and water references - or I may have just been deluding myself of course. Anyway I saw dancers mingling, entwining and jinking together but of course never fully melding or joining. It's all rather detached, though the dancers breathe much life into all they do - as well they might being part credited with the creation of the work.
Davies does amazing things for arms particularly I think - they shoot off all over and the thrust, intent and focus of the movement is constantly on the move. This makes it sound frenetic almost, which it most certainly is not - its a controlled, mannered, snatched looseness and the antithesis of extravagant and big.
The travelator proved a good idea speeding or slowing movement or just whisking one dancer past another, both accepting of the odd reality. There were many sides to the dance just as the music - sparse and minimal generally, also broke out from time to time. There were even some bars of discernable beat!
It engaged me much - I want to see more, much more - but it didn't reach out and really grab me. Rather you have to reach in.
Does it work?
Well yes - excellent, solid, laudable dance and rather uplifting in its way. But I really wish that Davies would just let rip at times. If I have a criticism its that it comes over as a tiny bit sanctimonious and reverential in feel. Watching can be like being at a Methodist party with everybody clutching their ginger beer and mince pies and professing to be having a really wild time of it. For myself I'd prefer bit more communion wine or even a dose of Jim and Tammy Faye Baker's evangelical fever. But then it wouldn't be Davies I suppose. And neither would it be real.