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  • Miles Hedley

EMERGENCE at Laban theatre

Only an initial vowel separates motion and emotion yet the two are inextricably entwined, as all great dance – classical or contemporary – will testify. And I have seen few better examples in recent times than the rapturous show Emergence staged at the Laban building in Deptford.


Emergence, a collaboration between Joss Arnott Dance and the University of Salford, features a troupe of postgraduates who have been offered the priceless opportunity to work with great choreographers, in this instance FLOCK – that’s Alice Klock and Florian Lochner – Anthony Missen and Arnott himself.


The tone of the evening was set in a five-minute curtain-raiser titled Vortex by Natalya Smith and  four dancers which explored the importance and joy of strength, dynamism and unity.


FLOCK’s Fortune Favors cleverly continued that exploration with eight dancers, costumed in blood-red, showcasing their inner power and thereby empowering the audience to seek out their own hidden strengths.


The first half of the programme concluded with another eight-dancer tour de force, this one called  Announcing… which was created with Missen.

Its subject was the psychological consequences of what we keep to ourselves and what we share, a dilemma beautifully presented as a sort of therapy session in which individuals played out their strengths and weaknesses in front of their peers. Troupe therapy, I suppose you could call it.


Announcing… - and particularly it thunderous opening sequence – was simply spellbinding and it was hard to imagine how the programme’s second half could possibly compete.


I needn’t have worried. Emergence artistic director Arnott used all 15 dancers in Surge to magic up a sensational half-hour of organised chaos as the performers became whirling, writhing, hypnotic and apparently inexhaustible embodiments of strength, dynamism and unity to a pulsating original score by James Keane.


It was exhilarating stuff - and the perfect example of what makes great dance so artistically, visually, intellectually, emotionally and vicerally thrilling.




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