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Such excellence worthy of boundless praise took place at Live at LICA at the beginning of this month. Without hesitation can it be said that the audience still do not know what had hit them. Indeed it was a full house indicating anticipation for the established stronghold that is Candoco Dance Company.
Launching the Dance Cuts Weekend 2013 in Lancaster was the “anniversary programme of three bold and unexpected works” by Candoco as part of their ‘Turning 20’ showcase. There could have been no prior preparation for delving in the pieces, all of which still keep both spectators and performers pensive. This is not a review of a work that has passed- it is rather a discourse on the continuum in which we find this dance company and the expression of dance. Take then the first piece of the programme by the French choreographer Rachid Ouramdane from which emerged emotional charges that invited the audience “to create open-ended fictions.” In this, five dancers displayed movements progressing from still to the small until their body’s extension held no more. Contraptions on stage comprised a speaker, a spinning vinyl record and a bass guitar and the dancers’ interaction with the five of these seemed beyond the physical. These instruments emitted musical notes out of its own accord prompting motion on stage but not always. This piece had much to do silence as it did with noise. Particularly impressive was a moment when the movement was slowed by total dominion of the muscles at a speed reminiscent of slow motion achieved on screen. Bold and daring, ‘Looking Back’ commanded attention from the audience before it continued to ‘This is it’ by Matthias Sperling.
From the sparkling costume of Victoria Malin alone the audience inferred a contrasting experience to the previous. Overhearing a viewer whisper “alien space galactic”, it suddenly felt like watching a separate performance. The garishness of the aesthetic in this solo immediately screams out a caricature of pop culture when the artistic self appears to be whole. Repetition of steps and gestures for me pertained to the regurgitation endemic in the mainstream. All the while singing what can be called an 80’s hit composed by Robin Rimbaud, it was truly mesmerizing. The most ambitious of all finally, was the oldest of the works- Set and Reset/Reset, a “restaging project by the Trisha Brown Dance company” in collaboration with Candoco. It contained everything expected of a dance show: fluidity, capacity and form. Seasoned dance viewers sighed at the refreshing connection of the dancers that which contemporary dance often lacks. Altogether it was about expression rather than display.
It was a real privilege to witness these vanguards appear on a familiar stage. “When Celeste Dandeker and Adam Benjamin started Candoco in 1991 they took a giant leap into the unknown.” This exceptional company is inclusive of all dancers- disabled and non-disable. Their inimitable achievements have transcended the dance collective by far and anointed us with that common passion for dance.