Ups and Downs


ZOO Southside

Pair Dance / Colchester Arts Centre / Escalator East to Edinburgh

(Originally published here)


Pair Dance’s piece aims to combine movement with other technology, and to create a work that embodies “multimedia” by showing that dance and projection (specifically in 3D) can co-exist. The show that has been produced is, in reality, a somewhat stilted production, which although having some shining moments feels flat and borders on uninteresting.

Harriet Macauley, co-founder of the company and director, choreographer and a dancer in this piece, attempts to map a modern-day lifestyle by demonstrating sterility, repetition and the machine-like workings of everyday life. In the first part (“Interview”) the dancers are intimidated by the audience’s judging eye, cleverly alternating between graceful floor sequences and brutal – and occasionally ungainly – falls. The second part, “Machine”, is a section that fails to be memorable and after a while feels unnecessarily long, the point about repetition made quite early on and less powerful in its continued extrapolation.

‘Battle’, however, is the weakest section. A predictable and fairly conventional pas de deux, this sequence involved a lot of circling and running, interspersed with stilted and lack-lustre fight sections. The additional speech that was inserted did not help to illuminate this section or assuage the slightly cringe-worthy atmosphere around it. This subsequent ‘Scientific’ section, billed as one of the show’s selling points with its inclusion of 3D imagery, was underwhelming in terms of content and technically flawed. In fact, that the inclusion of 3D imagery – images of the same dancers in the piece – seems an odd decision to make. Even if the 3D had been perfect, why watch mediated projections of dancers instead of the dancers themselves? Any content in the choreography of this section was overlooked because of its gimmicky form.

The piece’s saving grace comes in the final section, which was the most powerful despite the notable lack of conventional choreography. A combination of particularly good scoring (by Richard Leonard), and a simple but meaningful use of the dancers at this point made this moment powerful and thought-provoking. Sadly, this revelation comes too late for most, and one is left with the thought that the forms with which the piece experiments work better alone: perhaps not a conclusion the company was aiming for.


One thought on “Ups and Downs

  1. Pingback: 2012: Theatre Round-Up « yellowdrama


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