To the avid dance audience an hour long work is an exciting yet daunting concept. To your everyday man in the street and hour long dance piece sounds just plain crazy; what can you do for an hour to keep me awake?
Well, during the Edinburgh Festival hour long works are present in abundance and of late I have seen two which have bored me, excited me and made me question the relevance of an hour long slot.
Natasha Gilmore's One Up One Down cleverely made an hour pass in a blink with her captivating combination of dance, song, theatre and poetry. The work explores a womans self perception in our consumer orientated society. The female cast resemble one another to such an extent that they could be sisters and this, combined with the set, gives a great aesthetic feel. More importantly the content of the work is accessible to anyone who has been alive in the past forty years as it draws upon characture individuals we can all sympathise with. Humour and pity hold the work together in a perfect balance whilst the energy of the performers completely holds your attention.
Similarly, 2FaCeD DaNcE Company cannot be faulted for their energy in their latest work Still Breathing. The dancers were fantastic at what they did however they simply did what they were fantastic at which made for a poor piece of choreography. It was blatantly obvious who was a trained dancer and who was a bboy. No choreogrpahic attempt was made to disguise this or fuse the two mediums which resulted in the dancers all looking weaker than their peers in some elements of the piece.
Furthermore, I am familiar with one of the bboys who performed and at times felt as if I may aswell have been watching him in a battle as the material was completely his own breakdance style and had not been developed or altered in any manner. To simply ask a bboy to perform a set to fill time in a work may be entertaining but is of no choreographic value and held no relation to the rest of the piece.
Having discussed the work with many friends it appears to have neither pleased bboys or the contemporary dance enthusiasts who were all bored at many points during the fifty five minutes. This is a real shame as the cast are an extremely gifted group of performers.
I think it is important that work is created because there is a reason for it to be developed. If this results in a three hour work that is all relevant than so be it but simply throwing movement in to kill time is futile. It simply devalues any quality the work had to offer in the first place.