- Miles Hedley
END-OF-YEAR DANCE SHOWS at Trinity Laban
The tropical heat outside may have been close to unbearable but inside the wonderfully air-conditioned Laban building the only heat was emotional thanks a scorching series of end-of-year shows by Trinity students and graduates.
I saw only a handful of the 40+ performances spread over the final month of TL’s summer semester but it was enough to be able to state categorically that dance is alive and well and living in Deptford – and ready to carry the artform to new heights in the wider world.
If I had to pick a favourite event it would be the BA2 Repertory Project which featured two works, Still and Far, created respectively by choreography legends Nigel Charnock and Wayne McGregor.
In collaboration with acclaimed company Candoco, Still featured 20 Trinity dancers who brilliantly demonstrated that the title was anything but. It opened with a perfectly drilled disco sequence that segued into grindcore and a stunning Weimar take on Leonard Cohen. It managed to be simultaneously profound, thunderous, visceral, sensual and funny (loved the knicker-nicker joke!)
Far, performed in extract, was equally effective as 18 dancers explored the emotional and physical possibilities of the human body as experienced during the Age of Enlightenment. As with all McGregor’s work it was intellectually challenging but visually lovely – and the students captured both aspects superbly.
Dance In Situ found BA3 students in ones, twos and threes scattered throughout the Laban building presenting their own creations that covered an intriguing range of subjects from living with chronic pain to working with monster costumes by way of dance photography, parkour, horror movies, illusion and stress. It added up to an inspiring, educative and mind-stretching experience.
In a separate event, 41 third-year students performed two works commissioned from TL alum Stephanie Schober and Divya Kasturi.
Schober’s - between fierce and casual - was danced in silence to emphasise that this was about the music of human movement. It felt like a jazz improvisation with the dancers riffing off each other within an ordered framework and, like the best jazz jams, it was utterly absorbing.
Kasturi’s piece, called Gasp, was a gorgeous meditation on breathing and memory that was suffused with the South Indian classical dance tradition but was at the same time resolutely contemporary. The skill of the young dancers helped make it a mesmerisingly perfect way to end a show.
The final event of TL’s summer semester was the graduate showcase which featured more than two dozen dancers performing individual works over a fortnight at both the Laban building and the Laurie Grove campus.
The spirit of the showcase was summed up for me by Antonia Grove’s Holy Moly Mother Of Chaos which asked important questions about binary stereotypes and set out to bend the boundaries of empathy and anarchy through spoken word as well as dance. It was a piece that worked on so many levels, not least by transforming the performer into a living art installation.
It was an envelope-pushing tour de force that encapsulated the visionary drive of this new generation of Trinity Laban dancers as they set out on their career paths. I can’t wait to see what they might have in store for us.
Picture: James Keats Photography