The first time I saw Maliphant's work it was a bit of a mini-revelation - that stop/go enfolding movement of arms and bodies and all of it contained so literally in the clever pools of intense lighting from Michael Hulls. It was just so exciting and my eyes were attracted to it all.
Well I've settled down a bit now and while I still very much enjoy Maliphant's work I'm perhaps more circumspect. In part this is because the lighting is more imitated and I'm familiar enough with the movement style to start to see it all look similar/familiar at times, but perhaps not familiar enough to see important distinctions - if they are they are there to be seen of course... My eyes are still learning I reckon. Overall however I found the three pieces of Maliphant in this programme incredibly rich - like chocolate fudge cake, it was almost too much in the one sitting.
The opening piece - Knot - featured Maliphant and Yuval Pick as two blokes fighting in some mixture of bar-room brawl and social dance. All in comical trousers. A drum score picked up the agro but the cleverness didn't really develop. Things picked up with Sheer where Maliphant danced with his partner Dana Fouras in a piece of love and togetherness. Being Maliphant there are arms and fists of course, but their ballet training showed as the piece develops in beautifully weighted lifts and understated partnering as the relationship unfolds. The soundtrack, by Sarah Sarhandi, starts with whispered words but becomes more classical as they dance more easily and openly too.
Many in the audience were there to see Torsion, the new piece for Michael Nunn and William Trevitt of George Piper Dances (they are the Channel 4 Ballet Boyz who were with the Royal Ballet). After much recent touring Nunn and Trevitt are in sparklingly 'beefy' form, the more blokish with their closely cropped heads. Torsion seemed an amalgam of the two earlier pieces, and their powerful dancing made it the most compulsive viewing of the evening. From Knot we had the competitive struggle between the two but then they drew together in some deeper bond, as in Sheer, and there are classical duets and pdd springing up oh so casually - the full works with lifts etc. None of it is camp or silly, just two moving together in a wonderful and powerful way. Really rather good!
On reflection I perhaps started this review a little negatively. It was an enjoyable night and if anything was a fine advertisement for what dance can achieve especially when underpinned by top-notch ballet training and technique. It would be hard to image non-ballet trained dancers performing Sheer and Torsion. Hard for me anyway!