BA3 COMMISSIONED WORKS at Laban Theatre
The ability to move easily between the infinite and the quotidian is at the heart of all great art. But few artforms can do it quite so viscerally as dance because it can combine intellect, imagination and – crucially - physicality to create a matchless sense of what it is to be alive.
This was scintillatingly demonstrated in a two-part show of commissioned works performed by third-year Trinity Laban BA students which featured a programme stretching from cosmological physics to basic human pleasures by way of Greek mythology and climate change.
Alice Sara’s Going, Going, Gone was inspired by Isaac Newton’s three laws of motion which, loosely speaking, codify inertia, momentum and action/reaction. Her 19 dancers managed to make these often mind-mangling concepts accessible with a mesmerising series of comings and goings, sometimes quick and sometimes slow, sometimes solo and sometimes in a huddle, but always gorgeously danced.
The first show was rounded off in ebullient style by Break It Down, Sarah Golding and Yukiko Masui’s breathless celebration of the sheer joy of dance. Twenty performers in perfectly-drilled unison showed us exactly why dance is so infectiously thrilling. So much so, in fact, that when one member of the audience whooped during the final sequence it set off a chain reaction that engulfed the entire theatre. It was truly a goosebumps moment.
Show Two opened with Rahel Vonmoos’s Her Tapestry Followed A Different Theme or Due Deference To The Gods which explored the nature of defiance by taking as its inspiration the cautionary tale of a mere mortal, Arachne, who challenged the Olympian goddess Athena to a weaving contest. Needless to say, the competition did not end well for the human. By contrast, Vonmoos’s dancers were simply divine, investing their performance with emotional intensity and hypnotic technique.
Jean Abreu’s blue-drenched The Present Part (pictured) was the show’s susurrating and sinuous closing piece. The previous works had all offered instructive programme notes – Abreu’s offered only an enigmatic riddle. Blue is simultaneously the colour of water and of death and my interpretation was that The Present Part represented both the life-giving properties of water and the deadly threat of drought and flood.
The final scene in which the dancers surged forward in a line like a tsunami before receding drought-like into the darkness brought inevitably to mind the terror of global warming with its menacing promise of rising sea-levels and evaporating fresh water. It was extraordinarily powerful.
For me, one of the most vital aspects of this whole show was the imaginative contribution the performers themselves made to each piece. All the choreographers involved were keen to emphasise that their works had been created in collaboration with the students - and it’s to the youngsters’ undying credit that they made this exhibition of the dancer’s art such a magical, magnificent experience for those of us lucky enough to see it.
Picture: Briony Campbell