Saturday, 1 December 2018

REVIEW: Emergence Dance: Double Bill - The New Adelphi Theatre, Salford.

A brand new student dance theatre company, Emergence, (a co-collaboration between Salford university and Joss Arnott) gave their premiere performance at Salford university's New Adelphi Theatre this evening. In a double bill of exciting contemporary dance choreography, 12 girls, under the artistic directorship of company founder Joss Arnott performed two new pieces. The dancers in the Emergence company are students on the 11-month MA Dance Performance and Professional Practices course at the university, and as part of this company have the opportunity to tour professionally whilst still training.

The first, 'And Still I Walk...' was an emotive and evocative piece which focused very much on shoes. Taking inspiration from the Suffragettes and the women factory workers during the first world war, this saw 6 of the company perform choreography by Sharon Watson to the music of Max Richter and Hans Zimmer.

I liked very much the idea here that although there was unity and harmony as a unit, the unit was constantly being fractured and 'warring'. The solo dances were a yearning for something more, something better, and yet when they did come together there was a rivalry and anger deeply embedded within them. But it always came back to the shoes... look at all that is happening around me, and still I walk...  always returning to this, almost ritualistic, like a ceremony, a way of bringing the disparity into harmony.

Their costumes reminiscent of female factory workers of the period, and with some lovely lifts, the whole piece (in several identifiable sections) culminates with a fast and frenetic section interspersed with an almost religious reverence of carrying the shows to the front of the stage one by one.

After a short interval, and to give the dancers time to catch their breath, we came back to watch the slightly longer of the two pieces with original music composed especially for this piece by James Keane. The piece was 'When Worlds Collide', and was definitely the more abstract of the two pieces. Choreographer Joss Arnott had created a rather nightmarish scenario I am still arguing with myself as to the narrative this dance displayed, but my favourite guess is that it was a duologue between two unseen but powerful forces, one creating life, the other wanting to destroy it. The constant throbbing pulse - reminiscent of a human heart-beat which fed through the piece was both comforting and frightening at the same time. The tribal rhythms, taken up by the dancers in their choreography was very reminiscent of the work of renowned choreographer Hofesh Schechter. The bold and creative lighting design (Joshua Tomalin) further attested to this in its striking quick changes and shock value.

Their unison work in this piece was sadly a little ragged, but since the work was so enjoyable and dramatic I can overlook this. I understood what effect these nightmarish military automaton-like moves were creating and this stood out in between moments of solo, duet or even trio work before bringing in the nightmare once again. Simple black one-piece costumes also gave the idea of both sinister and militia

There was also something animalistic about this piece. I cannot really explain this any further other than to say that it was  a feeling I had when watching it. Perhaps the repetition of one movement where the dancers had their hands in a quasi-antler pose like a stag put this thought in my mind. The full company unison conclusion to this piece was excellent and exciting.

Congratulations to dancers Rebecca Callow, Julie Charalambidou, Alana Crowie, Esmee Halliday, Emma Hopley, Lucy Jones, Emma Lane, Matilda Maginnis, Francesca Perazzolo, Hayley Walker, Jessica Ward and Hanna Woodliffe. And I really hope to see more dance performances at the New Adelphi in the new year.

Reviewer - Matthew Dougall
on - 29/11/18

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