These days many of my reviews seem to start 'This was a first viewing...' and I'm afraid this is no different as I consciously broaden my dance knowledge. Actually this is a double because it was also the first time I'd seen the Linbury Studio Theatre.
The Linbury is actually buried deep under the Royal Opera House Covent Garden with an entrance just off the box office/link space. One goes downstairs to the Linbury's own bar (complete with cheap sandwiches!!) and foyer and then down again into the theatre. Should the Thames barrier ever give way many might drown here and in the Peacock! It's a functional performance space not dissimilar in feel to Sadler's Wells. All the sight lines are good and the only criticism would be that knee-room is tight.
Maliphant presented 3 works, two solos and a longer piece for 4 dancers. As I indicated I have no way of putting what I saw in a wider context of his work, but one would say that Maliphant is not much into dance which involves lots of floor space - most of what was shown could have been created in a bed-sit. This possibly sounds rather derogatory but it should not be read that way. It is strange to see dance where the legs support, incline and lash out from the body, but don't really run, jump, skip or whatever. Of course dancers do move around the stage but it's just much, much, less than you would ever expect.
The other hallmark of the night was a brilliant use of lighting - created by Michael Hulls. The first piece - Shift - featured 7 panels at the back of the stage (or was it 5?) of projected white light that threw up a large silhouette of the dancer. You could either concentrate on what he was doing or the 2 dimensional image behind as it translated and faded in and out. Sometimes there were two or three images of the dancer on different panels giving quite different perspectives on what was going on. And what was going on was a slow almost Zen like movement at times, done mainly on the spot with the arms the focus of attention much of the time. Artistically I've never seen lighting and movement so closely coupled before.
The second piece also featured innovative lighting. It was all downlite and the dancer - the lovely Dana Fouras - was surrounded by what became a box of light. It started with the same deliberate slow movements of body and arms and just plain vanilla down lighting so you could see the complete dancer. But it slowly speeded up and Fouras's body became lost in the black interior of the box and all you saw were her rapidly moving limbs scything, flailing even, through the air all around. More please I thought.
After a short interval the longer work - Liquid Reflex - came on. This, in part, seemed to be inspired by fighting and the martial arts with a number of bouts (duets) between partners. But it also looked somewhat disconnected as if a number of pieces had been strung together for no obvious reason. There was though a particularly striking section involving two dancers mirroring their movements - at first the second dancer (Fouras again I think) only just being discernable in the very subdued lighting chosen. Overall though I think I might have got more out of this piece if I had not been quite so amazed by the earlier works.
Based on this showing I'm certainly interested in seeing Maliphant again - this was thoughtful and aesthetic work of quality. And white light has never looked so good I have to say.