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  • Miles Hedley


Updated: Feb 28

Contrast is a powerful tool of artistic expression in any medium, as even a glimpse of a Caravaggio painting or a snatch of bel canto opera reveals. Charles Dickens, who knew a thing or two about creating atmospheres, got it exactly right when he said: “There are dark shadows on the earth – but its lights are stronger in the contrast.”


Further thrilling proof of the potency of the chiaroscuro effect across all the arts was on offer at an evening of commissioned dance works at the Laban building when five dozen über-talented Trinity Laban BA3 students performed a triad of gorgeous works by acclaimed choreographers which dug deep into the effect of contrast on the human spirit.


The opening piece, Future Editions by Zoi Dimitriou, offered scenes and statements about different futures. One sequence began with a dancer announcing “The future terrifies me” which led to a stunning interpretation of the beautiful yet sinister soundtrack of Rosemary’s Baby. A later sequence, however, pulsated with joy as the troupe group-hugged and launched into a delirious dance to the music of the Arctic Monkeys. In an archly witty aside, another began with a performer announcing: “In the future I’ll be able to say I don’t like to dance…”


Next up was Bogle, choreographed and scored by Akeim Toussaint Buck, which contrasted the lives and legacies of two famous Jamaicans of that name – the 19th century martyred hero Paul Bogle and the 20th century dancehall legend Bogle, the stage name of pioneering performer and choreographer Gerald Levy. The first part brilliantly evoked the violence with which British colonial rule crushed early attempts at Jamaican self-determination. Just as brilliantly, the second absolutely nailed the sheer euphoria and excitement of moving to an infectious rhythm in a crowded room in the heat of a Caribbean night.


The triple bill concluded with Dear by Candoco stalwart Joel Brown, who also wrote the excellent music. The work examined the conflicting emotions that can co-exist simultaneously in all human relationships and interactions at every level – personal, professional and societal – and brought out the very best in its young cast. It was given even greater heft by Lorna Isles’ fabulous costumes which mirrored the chiaroscuro gradations of black and white that characterise life in the real world.


The Laban auditorium was packed to the rafters on the night I saw the show and each of the works quite rightly won a huge ovation. My own favourite, for its contrast between dark menace and glorious joie de vivre, was the amazing Bogle. But only by a whisker.




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