By Sophie Partridge
Hofesh Schecter back-flipped in my face! Well kind of anyway! It was at Fresh`11 at The Place on Saturday December 3rd. Hofesh’s own company head-lined this dance event, mainly comprising young performers from several companies. The evening began with taster sessions around the building and included a site-specific performance from Cando2, Candoco’s youth group.
Choreographed by the main company’s `Learning & Development’ Supremo Luke Pell, the four dancers including Kimberley Harvey, presented a piece entitled Marginalia from a Phantom Library. The piece, inspired by the dancers rehearsing in the Founders Studio on a weekly basis, was performed three times that evening.
Although only 10 minutes, it allowed for individual solos as well as ensemble movement and culminated in a particularly fluid, poignant phrase where each performer, using a book as impetus for their own unique movement, explored their differing journeys through the space in semi-light, beautifully. It is at such times I’m reminded why I hugely enjoy dance; saying so much without the need for words.
During the main performance in the theatre space later - a lot of words were used. New Movement Collective, invited the audience to choreograph them through calling their mobile phones! The audience could choose the moves from spinning a dial numbered with various choices, placed in the auditorium. Shift, XOXO, took text speak, tweets and social networking as inspiration for their work-in-progress performance, taken from Luca Silvestrini’s Protein’ LOL show!
London Youth Circus however, presented a solo female performer, practicing purely aerial work, in Unfold. Shoreditch Youth Dance Company presented SUPER, comprising a large ensemble and based on comic book super-heroes... Highlights included individual performer Andrew Bennett, narrating Jessica, by Spoken Word artist Polar Bear. Interspersing movement and music shared with the audience through his head-phones, the piece was both entertaining and meaningful.
For me, the best performances came first and last, matching each other in intensity and commitment. Avante Garde Youth Dance opened the show with Beatific Vision. Performed to a score by Shobana Jeyasingh for Refresh, the piece had a strong narrative of ritual and aggression. Dressed in various degrees of black and with some members masked, initially dancers entered & exited the stage in pairs and then gradually grew into the whole ensemble. Movements were rigorous, jagged with a sense of the mass moving against the one. I found myself out of breath at the end of those 10 minutes along with the dancers!
This contained, yet violent anger, was echoed at the end in Shechter’s extract from Political Mother, with both music and choreography by Hofesh. As a wheelchair-user, I was right at the front and on the edge of the stage. It was like being caught up in some dramatic Dance Off with the whole company – including Hofesh himself, going for it somewhat. Movements were reminiscent of those Fin Walker explored with us during Candoco’s International Lab, back in October. Feet were stamping the floor, rooting the performers to the earth with hands following the same lines. Hence the heart-stopping moment (for me anyway!), when Hofesh – right in front of me – suddenly back-flipped! It was simply too close to be comfortable yet exhilarating.
All in all then, Fresh at the Place, was certainly that in terms of performance, vitality and diversity. I look forwards to #Fresh 2012.