Have we met somewhere before?
Soledad, Rafael Bonachela
Cut ups, Lea Anderson
Fever to Tell, Mark Bruce
The Place, Friday 5 May, 2006
Theo Clinkard & Antonia Grove present “Have we met somewhere before?” as an hour long performance comprising three duets linked and framed by their own onstage backstage dancerly activity. Entering the auditorium to an indierock soundtrack they unselfconsciously prepare their props, warm up and dress. It’s a nice touch, breaking down barriers between audience and artist, adding intimacy and continuity to the show. It also lends a fourth perspective on their central concern, human relationships. The three duets are disparate, yet at the end of the performance it feels like you’ve been on a wild ride of a journey with one couple in their many incarnations. As a set, topped and tailed by the performers, these duets are accumulatively compelling.
Bonachela’s “Soledad” (solitude) opens with a short film of a lone matador setting the tone for Clinkard and Grove to tease and provoke each other in a dark atmosphere of brooding melodrama. This relationship is sensual and explosive; the intimate caresses of lovers are subverted into physical rejection or turned to selflove. Desire and repulsion, gentleness and violence vie for dominance in this dynamic and sexy duet. Bonachela has opted for choreography that owes more to emotion and bodily expression than pure style, although it’s unrelentingly technically demanding and impressive. Thankfully, he remembered his sense of humour. Clinkard and Grove carry the piece off with flinging aplomb; equals and individuals pushing the boundaries of their conflicting desires in a demonstrably human, amusing and yet dejectedly deadpan manner.
“Cut Ups” kicks off with some cute gimmicks; the dancers making amusing shadow play with cut out newspaper and their hands on the back wall, but the gimmickry soon gives way to something vastly more strange, and refreshing. You have to wonder how long it took the dancers to shake off their training and adapt their bodies to Lea Anderson’s kooky, jerky choreographic vision (and, to get through the piece without giggling I suspect). The series of dances sees Grove and Clinkard shoulder to shoulder, like shiny suited wind up dolls, reinventing the jive with exaggerated facial expressions to a string of whacked out contemporary, post punk tracks. The first section receives laughter and delighted applause from the audience. The ensuing variations, emphasising the bright forcedness of expression, bouncy stiffness and working within a proscribed and awkward dance vocabulary, soon appear rather more serious and discomfiting. Highly original, this quirky and surprising piece subtly probes questions about the absurdities, constrictions and expectations conflicting at the heart of human relationships.
The tone is set for “Fever to Tell” by its film prologue of a grainy, vaguely dangerous night time drive through the countryside. This gives way to a sumptuous rock ‘n’ roll experience, due largely to the smouldering presence of Antonia Grove in her thigh skimming green dress with wild red hair, pulling on a roll up while the Yeah Yeah Yeahs growl away cataclysmically. Mark Bruce’s rock sensibility makes this a raunchy and abandoned piece of choreography, perfect for Grove possessed by the spirit of Courtney Love, blessed with grace and cut through with a tender heart. Grove, at one point, following a downbeat section writhing with Clinkard, impossibly smoking and looking glorious, gets up and starts to sing. Sings beautifully, unaccompanied and vulnerably about love. A pox on the man who let his mobile phone ring just at this point. Fever to Tell has atmosphere in spades, but feels patchy and with Grove totally eclipsing Clinkard perhaps it wouldn’t stand up alone. However, as the tumultuous climax to this involving progression of works, it works.
This is a stunning, sexy and accessible evening of dance.
Take: first dates, partners, best mates, those you want to impress – this is the bollocks.