Last Friday I was lucky enough to see 'Rotar', a work by Siobhan Davies Dance and commissions by nine other artists; Massimo Bartolini, Sam Collins, E V Crowe, Angela de la Cruz, Matteo Fargion, Alexandra Hughes, Alice Oswald, Clare Twomey and Ben Tyers.
The complete work was originally show in November at the beautiful Siobhan Davies Studio, and included dance, poetry and ceramics. Unfortunately I waited until the last weekend to see the performance and then was pretty ill and missed it.
Fortunately I got a second chance, at least to get an essence of the work, as elements of it were performed at the South London Gallery, another stunning building.
My evening started Massimo Bartolini's light installation in the gallery's garden. It was simplicity at its best, white disk like lights at even distances around the garden's walls, light passing anti clock wise from disk to disk, its hypnotic quality enhanced by the beauty of the garden.
Next came Siobhan Davies piece 'The Score', a video of dancers Andrea Buckley, Lindsey Butcher, Annie Pui Ling Lok and Charlie Morrissey (who performed all the pieces that night) filmed from above and projected on to the floor before the live works started. It was 'The Score' from which the nine commission artists took inspiration. Basically, The Score + the artists' response to The Score = Rotor.
At first you thought the dancers were walking randomly in the space, but as patterns and formations began to appear you realised they were less than accidental. Having a birds eye view was a refreshing change, and seeing the floor patterns and dancers fall in and out of sync with each other was some how very satisfying.
After this was E V Crowe's 'Live Feed'. The dancers circled the space in a straight line, as though a human clock hand, continuing a dialogue as they went, speeding up as the piece progressed. Initially I had problems with the speech, for similar reasons to the issues I had with the text performed in Jasmin Vardimon's piece, it felt performed. Dancers don't seem to speech very well. But as the piece progressed the physical demands of breathing and talking forced them to be more natural and it was much more engaging.
Live Feed merged in to Siobhan Davies' work 'A Series of Appointments', which seemed to be a development of The Score. It did, for me, what choreography should do - create a little magic. Dancers would flock together when you least expected or disperse and rejoin, seamlessly coming to stillness as one being, after running around the space.
I recently finished reading Jonathan's Burrows book 'The Choreographer's Handbook', and one particular chapter sprang to mind while watching A Series of Appointments, the chapter entitled 'Predictable and unpredictable/Expectation' which included the following quote from Kevin Volans;
'What is predictable, must be both predictable and unpredictable: and what is unpredictable, must be both unpredictable and predictable.'
When my mind started to wander A Series of Appointments produced something surprising and pulled me back in.
Then came another work by E V Crowe, 'I'm Going To Show You'. This was a sound installation, and I personally missed it's point. In reflection I think it needed to be heard in a more intimate space and without the presence of the dancers.
The evening closed with Matteo Fagion's clever and humorous 'Songbook', which, according to the program notes, was a '33 page solo score for too many words, sounds and movements.'
They may have been solos but the they were cleverly inter woven to create an entertaining relationship between the three performers, with the perfect use of silences and stillness to enhance the well performed material.
After the November performance of Rotor one critic, who and for what paper I can't remember, described the work as a conversation, and this was very evident to me. Some parts of the dialogue were more interesting than others, but all in all, an inspiring conversation I was pleased to have.