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  • Miles Hedley


Updated: May 24, 2022

Dance is a great medium for tackling themes of any magnitude. For example, the range explored in New Choreography Now, a mixed bill created and performed by final-year students of Trinity Laban, included mountaineering, me-ness, melancholy, mortality and mousse - chocolate, of course.

And in the course of eight ten-minute pieces at a sold-out Laban theatre in Creekside 27 BA3 students revealed an intensity and insight belying their ages – and in the process put forward a powerful argument that the future of dance is safe in their hands.

Some of the performances were solo showcases – Kato Thomas dancing Olivia Thompson’s staccato piece Things I become, Charlotte Voskar’s scarlet-tinted stream of consciousness Efflux and Maea Morgan’s deeply personal family vignette Irrational eating of olives and chocolate mousse at random times of the day were all fearless in their self-exposure.

And the ensemble pieces were exemplary, from the ebb and flow of Act 1: Holding On by Anna Vargha to the first-half closer, Between And Within by Hannah George, which featured dancers Axelle De Groote, Millie Franklin and Lucy Halfpenny weaving their way through a matrix of crimson cords to the fabulous improvised violin of Miriam Pancheva.

The high standard continued after the break with Melissa Heywood’s beguiling mountaineering mini-drama On Belay! Climb When Ready followed by the truly extraordinary …I Know You Know… You Know I Know by Harriet Vincent, in which dancers Georgina Ellul, Lea Kossian, Lily Armah, Molly Clark and Sanya Malnar sashayed with a grace and allure that was seductive, even salacious.

The evening ended with And yet I crave nothing, Giulia Quacqueri’s memorable piece about melancholy and mental health brought movingly to life by dancers Margherita Massarotti, Benedetta Leso and Fabio Pronesti on a three-metre disc made of old newspapers.

A fortnight later, 24 of those dancers were back at Laban to join forces with 40 other third-year students divided into three troupes to performe a triad of works commissioned from professional choreographers. The three pieces shared a common theme – the tension between individuality and the power of the collective – and the result was magnificent.

Downswing by Candoco’s Joel Brown was pitched like a school dance with all its attendant embarrassment, bravado, rejection and acceptance, reaching its conclusion in a warm, optimistic scene of smooching dancers.

By contrast, Out Of Many by Rhys Dennis and Waddah Sinada of Fubunation had no happy ending. Instead it offered a sensationally half-lit, nightmarish vision of an industrial Gehenna as the dancers emerged from Stygian gloom to move in robotic, hissing synchronisation before melting back into the darkness – and oblivion.

And in a similar vein Precipice, by Double Vision’s Amanda Gough and Sonia Rafferty – which closed the show – gave us a hard-hitting view of people teetering vertiginously on the edge, a notion that could not be more relevant in a world beset by climate crisis, pandemic and war.

The message may have been grim but, like all the performances over the two evenings, the medium in which it was imparted was dazzling thanks to a winning cocktail of talent, teaching and – of course – toil. Congratulations, tutti!

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