Last weekend was a busy old weekend, in Leeds, in terms of art. On thursday Charlotte Vincent Dance Theatre performed their piece 'If we go on', at the Carriageworks. I liked the elements that this work comprised of, particularly the live musicians on stage, cellist Alex Catona was absolutely amazing, and also the use of spoken text with dance, particularly Scott Smith's quietly sarcastic tone. I enjoyed the use of light, humor and the huge chalk board on to which large human forms were sketched. But somehow as a finished product it failed to draw me in. I can't work out if it was my mood that night, or the piece its self, but I felt unable to connect, I wasn't quite sure what their point was. And I didn't enjoy some of the 'dance' performances. They felt too obvious.
Friday night was 'Light Night', Leeds' annual art free art/performance/music extravaganza. From five in the afternoon until late at night the museums, universities, theaters, galleries, bars, and in fact any space that is usable, becomes a potential stage/exhibition space. With ninety performances over sixty venues its almost too much. And I definitely think that it effects the way people view the art. They don't give as much time or care to what they are seeing. But I am not knocking a free night of art and 'open' city. I think its brilliant.
As usual there was good stuff and bad stuff. My favorite thing was Gary Clarke's duet '2 Men and a Michael', performed out side of the Henry Moore Institute in the cold, dark and damp of the night. Centered around two chairs it was sharp and funny, the surreal atmosphere aided by the excellent dead pan delivery of the dancers. Watching the piece, while listening to the heckling and mickey taking of the audience (despite their mockery they never left so it can't have been that bad), and through my own experience, I thought how performing in public spaces is pretty 'brave' (I was reluctant to use this word) and exposing. You just don't know how people will react. Especially when you are wearing a suit jacket and a pair of Y-fronts. And no trousers.
Next was a performance on saturday, of Antipode, by Retina dance company at NSCD's theater, The Riley. There may have been some nice movement in this piece. I just can't remember because there was way too much of it. My body had no time to digest any of it. It also felt like too much movement was a problem for the dancers as they gave me the impression they were so busy dealing with the piece they could not show themselves in the movement. Again I was confused by what the choreographer was trying to say to me. According to the program notes 'The five individuals share the same stage but are own their own path, with no shared goals and no fear, exerting their own physicality, exploring their own extremes'. Yet for me this piece used a lot of partner work and built situations that described some kind of relationship between the dancers, which was where the confusion came from.
Finally I finished the week on sunday with a workshop with Charlotte Vincent and a couple of her company members. Again, it was like her piece - I left feeling like I should have enjoyed it but I am not sure I did. Although the cellist was just as amazing in a workshop environment. His ability to play exactly what the movement required was astounding. As is the way in dance even the stuff we are not mad keen on is important - I did learn a lot from the workshop and I'd do it again.