Hannah Goslin

[...]

Review Rock Pool Sherman Theatre by Hannah Goslin

rock_pool_gallery2

Rock Pool

Inspector Sands and China Plate

Sherman Theatre

30/05/14

In the Sherman’s second theatre, we delved under the sea where we were treated to a blown up version of sea life. The blue light and sound of bubbles and water immersed us into a tranquil and yet excited state; urged to sit as close to the action as possible, children were sat on cushions on the floor and a mixture of adults and children further back, in usual seats in this modernised amphitheatre.

Rock Pool is a tale of Crab and Prawn, who, through a freak storm are thrown together from the ocean to a small rock pool where they are forced to bond together. In this small space, Crab becomes hungry very often, resulting in trying to eat Prawn who reluctantly shares her lunch with Crab to salvage herself. Through this, they play games and live life, waiting for another wave to take them back home.

The production used basic lighting in the form of white washes and this becoming dimmed for night-time – spotlights were also used along with a big splash sound and the use of stools to climb upon to signify when they both look out the top of the rock pool towards the sea. This simplicity was really effective for a children’s show, focussing of the animated acting in front of us instead of fancy light effects.

The characters of Prawn and Crab were very well executed – Prawn (Lucinka Eisler) a tall, well postured character, came across as a geeky, intelligent and pristine figure, dressed in a combination of stripy pink, grey and white clothing, a see through rain mac and a fun, pink head-piece. Eisler kept her posture very strong and upright, with small arms with fiddly fingers to emphasise a Prawns legs. Crab (Giulia Innocenti) was in smaller statue and contorted herself into a ball-like figure. Wearing a red helmet which she banged when talking about how hard she was, this was nicely followed with a comical ‘ouch’ in return and red gillet to beef her out. In comparison to Prawn, she was a less intelligent and less knowledgeable creature. Innocenti’s movements were squat, sideways, with crab like hands, a posture which she managed to keep throughout. With this contrast, they were able to bond with teaching one another and having fun through the process. Both actors worked well as a team, with over exaggerated facial expressions and almost melodramatic movements, they brought the piece to life. They also professed very good improv skills to interact with the audience and play upon suggestions given.

Comedy was provided throughout for both adults and children. Examples of these being, Crab’s attempts to eat Prawn with BBQ tongs – the moment when water is desperately needed to stop Prawn from cooking in the shrinking rock pool, resulting in lots of water play, splashing the nearby audience with this as well as the constant use of human objects and items to bring more understanding to the audience, helping with a comical moment of Crab’s boredom where she dresses and acts like a ‘lady’.

The bitter-sweet ending where Crab and Prawn return to the sea, yet whose friendship is now torn apart by reality gave us a sense of sadness and but hope with knowing that anyone can bond for even a split second. We are revived after this by a song and dance at the end; a technique we were also treated throughout with the lovely singing voices of both actors, showing their collaboration and budding friendship again in their own small ‘rock group.’

For a children’s show, I found myself laughing and enjoying every moment, along with many other adults whose, perhaps, like myself, childhood’s were revisited.

Review Frank, Chapter Arts Centre by Hannah Goslin.

frank-movie-poster-michael-fassbender

Frank

Chapter Arts Centre

Hannah Goslin

22/05/14

The red room of Chapter was a lovely set up to see this indie film. With its small capacity, the sold out show had a feeling of cosiness which would be more expectant and welcomed of an independent film.

My excitement for this film had been brewing for a while, with my admittant admiration and ‘crush’ on Irish actor and son of acclaimed actor Brendan Gleeson, Domhnall Gleeson. After seeing him in films such as Harry Potter, About Time and Anna Karenina, I knew that we would be in for a good performance. The character of Frank played by Michael Fassbender and an appearance from Maggie Gyllenhaal, is also a very welcomed addition.

Frank sees the tale of a average British man (Gleeson) called Jon who lives a normal life in a seaside town, still living with his parents and taking on an office job when really he is wishing for stardom as a musician… however his inspiration and ability to create music is seriously flagging. By chance, he meets this strange and unusual band who take him on as a last minute keyboard player. Jon’s life is soon completely changed, with travels to a remote part of Ireland for over a year to try and create an album of the most strange music you have ever heard. His use of social media transports the band into an online famous identity, bringing the band to Texas where this odd and close band are not accepted in the real world, and who’s relationship is torn apart.

This indie film was everything you wanted from a film with such a strange image in the public – a normal stature of a man with a exaggerated Paper Mache head. It was very comical throughout, with every actor having its moments of this, whether it was from the naivety of Gleeson’s character Jon who was from a suburban ordinary home thrown into this band where each character has its own abnormal past and/or traits to Gyllenhaal’s welcoming face contrasted to her sheer hating and negative personality.

The aesthetics of the film are simple and beautiful. Lovely and tranquil shots of a British seaside suburban town, the lake and rolling hills of the Irish huts they stay in and the vast sun drenched desert of Texas. Not only have the locations been well thought about but the band itself have – 5 Americans who all look pale with dark hair, dark vintage clothes all as if they have all come from a cloning facility. Gleeson’s well acted complete British-ness and bright ginger hair creates this outsider approach for Jon from the band, which highlights the storyline will his lack of acceptance by everyone but Frank.

Fassbender is also incredible. With no way of showing facial expressions, the large head of Frank still somehow manages to convey a range of emotions that the character faces, with Fassbender able to conduct the rest of his visible body in a way that complements this. Even now, this is confusing and admiring as it is uneasy to think how this is at all possible; how can an actor with no facial expressions convey so much and make you laugh, cry and feel for him without this. Eventually we learn of Frank’s unstable mental abilities, and this is transferred in hindsight through the hole film with Gyllenhaal and Gleeson’s character’s torment and fight against one another to look after him in his naive and child like state which at first we misconstrue as a sense of creativity.

Over all, Frank is an amazing film to watch. It is hard to fault as it ticks every box for this such of film – from emotion both positive and negative, beautiful images from the landscape and in the general cinematography, the many many perfect comical moments to the stella performances from each and every actor, Frank is a film to cross off your bucket list.

Review Dance Roads Open Process, Chapter Arts by Hannah Goslin

cropped-1200x400

Dance Roads Open Process

Chapter Arts Centre

Hannah Goslin

23/05/14

When I come to Chapter and get to see a performance in the Stiwdio, I am always excited by the versatility of this space and how interchangeable it is. Complimenting this space, Dance Roads Open Process showed us five different performances, all changing the Stiwdio.

Dance Roads is currently celebrating its 25th Birthday of a project supporting the development of performers from a range of countries. We get to see these shows, possibly ranging from raw experiments to almost perfected pieces, some performed by the Choreographers themselves, others directorial, and some a mixture of the two.

The first sight we see entering the space is what was reminiscent to me as the circuits one learns in school when learning about electricity. This circular area seemed bare and slightly concealed by very dark lighting, with only two technicians in the corner of the stage surrounded by wires and computers. The use of a very dim and almost harsh light revealed a wrapped body in the corner who begins to move. This grotesque movement with the use of a ruffled fabric was contorted into strange shapes, leaving an uneasy yet intrigued feeling. Eventually with the contortion ending, we welcome Canadian performer Sarah Bronsard who provides a really interesting piece with a relationship between her and the circuit, soon revealed to make noises such as a metronome. With mostly use of her arms and majority her legs and feet, she began to make beats with her tap shoes that seemed to command the circuit, making several levels of rhythm, such as a percussion band would. Her intensity in the relationship with these small mechanical beings was enticing and the combination of her erratic and quick movements and her eye contact with them made you unable to keep your eyes off the movement for a moment. The quickened pace lead you to believe that we would have a crescendo of chaos, however, this ended in a moment of serenity with more graceful and peaceful movements, the beating eradicated and the focus on a shining box in the corner. This was very effective after several minutes of such mesmerising movement.

Sarah was followed by a Italian Duet, choreographed and also performed by Andrea Gallo Rosso. The stage was cleared for a very minimalist piece, where our focus was purely on the two bodies in similar clothing. The relationship between these two men reminded me of a personal struggle –beginning by pushing one another, with graceful recoveries for a fight for the main centre place. It also seemed that, along with this, the difference in age (while not by much) of the performers could be seen as a younger and older self, also translated into the solo movements with the ‘younger’ self’s movements more erratic, risky and fast paced, as the others was slower, more graceful and careful. This contrast was very beautiful to watch; the dancers using a really good use of levels to draw the audience’s eye across the stage. The trust and clearly well practiced piece was very interesting to watch, especially with the performers never making eye contact with each other and very rarely use. The moments of collaboration needed both these elements and a sense of peripheral vision in order to catch each other and move as one. When eye contact was made with us, it was intense and very personal, bringing us into, what at times, was a very voyeuristic piece.

Another circular stage was set up with a set of torches. We welcomed Pauline Buenerd to the stage to show us a piece by French choreographer, Teilo Troncy. Out of the performances so far, this was the most unordinary. Buenerd moved her body in slow and unordinary images in one space to the sound of silence. For myself, this felt awkward. The pace created a sense of this show taking a long time to come to any fruition. Eventually the pace was quickened, music was involved and we soon realise that the abstract images of snapping her fingers and moving her head was to a jazz band song that was in her head only. The joy transferred onto her face at the knowledge that we could now also hear this, and this joy then became evident in her movement across the stage. With many repetitions of gestures, throwing herself on the floor and jumping in the air, it seemed that this joy was the fuel for her. This again, was uneasy to watch and I felt myself hoping that the piece would end soon. And so it did at the moment that she exhausted herself. If this was the point of the piece, then it was well constructed, however a lot felt as if it was improvised on the spot with no real narration of the purpose.

After a short intermission and change of set, we walk back in the Stiwdio which is once again transformed. Welsh choreographer Jo Fong had created a audience viewing the audience set up – with a camera image projected onto the back wall of the stage of us walking in and taking our seats, the audience participation was imminent with individuals waving at themselves and seeing the image facing them. The stage then consisted of 6 chairs with the two performers facing us. This began with an awkwardness from the performers, such as an audience would be, in a question and answer session after a show. Fong made a very clever piece using this idea; the status quo of the performers changing to then answering their own question of how they begin preparing for the piece through movement, trial and errors and critical evaluation of their selves. Their movements were meant to reminisce an uncertainty of performers, a nervousness and the mistakes made in solo and in duet rehearsals. These created very comical moments, allowing the audience to laugh and really hit home with us performers in the audience who have all felt this in preparation for a performance. Despite these awkward and nervous movements, the dancers were very engaging and still managed to show us elements that were well constructed despite the appearance of these feelings. Eventually, these all culminated in putting all these sequences together, with an element of the uncertainty still evident. Over all this well constructed comical piece, for me, was the highlight of the night.

Finally, our final piece was another male duet by Jasper Van Luijk, from the Netherlands. The stage was minimalist, but more expectant of what we would see from a contemporary dance piece – white floor and walls with a haze of colour to give substance. There was something similar to Rosso’s piece before- two male figures and their fight against one another with moments of collaboration. However, Luijk had made this more violent and for some jumpy audience members, hard to watch. We saw as beautiful contemporary movements soon lead to chaos and throwing the self of one dancers with large hits to the floor, eventually this stopping him in a still pile at the centre of the stage. The use of moveable lights were given to the other performer to highlight this crumpled image, leading to him providing graceful movements around the body . I felt that I lost concentration at times during this and perhaps leaving such a standard contemporary piece till the end was a wrong move after such an energetic and audience involving piece beforehand.

Review Motionhouse Broken – Seismic Performance in a Shifting World by Hannah Goslin

broken_03

Motionhouse

Broken – Seismic Performance in a Shifting World

Hannah Goslin

21/05/2014

Broken – When we think of the word broken, we can relate it to many different visions. Broken objects, breaks in aspect of nature, heart break, broken parts of our individual World, things that break these elements and breakages from our own impact.

Motionhouse’s Broken addresses these aspects including many many more. We begin with a pre-human World and almost the beginning of what we know. We travel through time to Earthly breakages as the surface of the World evolves; the impact of humanity discovering beneath the surface through mining excavations and the dangers of this and the heart break that comes with losing someone. This loss turns into hope, in the growth of trees and plants on the surface, penetrating the beneath and then the above atmosphere, with humanity’s discovery. We see cave man life, our struggle with (as the programme says) ‘our own shadows’, conscience and fears, soon landing us to a present day scenario, nature’s response to our modern ways of life and how easily these are broken.

Confronted with a very simple set consisting of two poles and a large screen, already showing an animation of lights and accompanied by a mixture of technological sounds, it seems that we are going to see a production purely based on the dancers’ moves. Oh how we are wrong. This large screen soon continues its animation to accompany the stage performance, showing animations of earthly images, setting scenes for the performance such as a typical house set up for the final scene and throwing us into the deep end at first with an energetic eclectic mix of nature and almost Sci Fi images and sound. The screen doubles up as a way for performers to come on to and away from the stage; implementing staging through the fabric folds for the performers to swing and propel themselves from, including ledges later on in the house scene that can be manoeuvred to different angles, leaving performers hanging from the edges. The inventive fabric screen become malleable yet extremely strong, allowing the performers to pull against and lean through. Simple, yet incredible, the screen becomes a number of different set pieces in one. The poles also bend at the swings of the performers, yet strong enough to carry all 6 of them at once. All of this accompanied by a mixture of cracking and breaking sounds to compliment the images moving on the screen and music, the performers easily adapt their movement without the need for a beat. Smaller additions such as a mattress and one of the ledges are taken away from the screen to project images onto which brought the focus forward, showing a more interesting range of levels.

The performers costumes stay simple yet effective for the timeline. With the use of mostly earthly colours, they bring a modern take on the naturalistic scenes they portray and such like the mattress and ledge, images are easily projected onto the fabric, encouraging the movement and animation to blend. This simplicity makes other aspects stand out, such as the beginning translucent and strong yet flexible ball that a lit up dressed female dancer is inside, contorting themselves and the ball into shapes which seem embryonic. This ‘leitmotif’ for stage recurs throughout as a symbol of hope – a guardian angel for those lost. This beautiful image not only comes from the costume, but the performers angelic and graceful movement.

With three female and three male performers, it’s difficult to differentiate ability. We are used to seeing dancers especially in areas such as ballet, with a clear male and female role. However, evident by the muscular physiques of these performers, all are capable of each other’s roles, supporting one another physically and emotionally and with obvious indicative feelings of trust to one another with falling, swinging and throwing one another around the stage and set. Motionhouse do this very well, with the ‘guardian angel’ characters mentioned before played by the female performers; their flexible and small frames at this point change the status quo of the company, showing the elegance and maternal figures that these characters are portraying. This works extremely well when the ‘miner’ characters try to escape, one too weak to free themselves, and the pain this angel feels with her struggle to help him to freedom. Admittedly, the use of movement, music, darker lighting and the emotion on these two dancers faces are heartbreaking and brought a tear to my eye. Such a true to life piece cannot always have happy endings. The performers showed their obvious hard work and dedication to the piece through their practice – the aforementioned screen showed animations that at times the performers had to know by heart to play with through the folds, such as cracks that moved with their own hands coming out and changes of horizontal poles in order for movement to cross the screen in mid air.

All these elements produced an awe inspiring piece where, looking around, not a single audience member was not encapsulated by. Moments such as the heart breaking moment of the miner not achieving his freedom produced sniffles of tears from others (not just myself) in the audience, audible in between the breaks of sound; the moment where a ledge is thrown down, almost crushing a performer as he swiftly slides out the way evoked a gasp of fear and all of this resulting in a standing ovation at the end. A piece that leaves you not only looking at reality from a different perspective, but inspiring dancers and performers a like to create such thought provoking theatre.

 

Review Unknown Pleasure’s Symposium and 3rd year final show ‘Ignorance’ by Hannah Goslin

ignorance

University of Wales, Trinity Saint David, Swansea

Unknown Pleasure’s Symposium and 3rd year final show ‘Ignorance’

Townhill Campus and Taliesin Arts Centre, Swansea.

18/05/2014

As a graduate from the performing arts course in Swansea, I was invited along to a symposium with the final project title, Unknown Pleasures. My encounter with the project was a practical exploration in the marketing and events management field the year before for the children’s show Skellig

Unknown Pleasures is a final project idea for the last year students of the course originally designed by Volcano Theatre Company. The concept of the project is to team up with a Welsh based practitioner to create an explorative piece, in joint venture with the Taliesin Arts Centre. The pieces have ranged from site specific, to campus based and this year, based at the centre itself.

The symposium took a look at many research factors that are being divulged in the performing arts industry. Papers from academics such as Dr Sarah Evans, a lecturer at University of Wales, Trinity Saint David on a women’s based event and the engagement of the participants and the facilitators duty and effort to overcome this; Martin Johnson, also a lecturer at UWTSD on the educational system and the challenges this faces for being a creative practitioner; Jason Benson, another lecturer at UWTSD on his PhD of disturbance in theatre, based on Volcano theatre company and it’s ability to seek individual freedom of expression and Kris Darby from Liverpool Hope on technology based performances explored in schools. We were also treated to talks from Mess up the Mess and Theatr Fforwm Cymru on their projects and endeavours in the community, Zoe Jarvis on the community aspect of my Swansea based project, Creative Bubble of which I conceived and continue working on from over a year ago and the director Gerard Tyler on the production of Ignorance.

These speakers all gave interesting and very creative outlooks on different subjects, raising many questions, rhetorical and answerable as well as, personally, gave inspiration to myself as a performer.

This was accompanied by two performances by academics, Declan Patrick from Liverpool Hope and Daniel Hunt from University of Lincoln. Both very different performances; Patrick showed the desire and pain that dancers experience and the concept of the desired and desiring body of the student. Using contemporary dance moves, contrasted with a vulnerability his balance, Patrick opened himself as a performer, questioning the student/teacher relationship in the creative world and how vulnerable this should be. Using only a chair and his own body, the minimalistic nature of this performance was interesting in the sense that nothing was needed – Patrick was the performance, the props and the set.

Hunt began his piece in an energetic and elevated way. As audience members, we entered and stood in the space in silence, waiting for the show to unfold, with only a table of wine and orange juice and further into the space a lit table and chairs facing one another – however, this was not the case. Hunt encouraged us to bring an energy sensed upstairs during a coffee break, encouraging chat and drinking to ensue. This on a non-performance level was interesting in order to meet and speak new people, soon becoming aware that two of our audience members had become participants in the corner in what seemed a personal moment of light contact and hugs. To look felt intrusive yet awareness of what was happening was, for me, at a high. However, other audience members felt different or didn’t notice at all, not even when some were taken to help lift the participants at intervals along the room. One member of the audience decided to involve themselves and felt, on reflection, a sense of community from this – being able to make contact with another human that we normally avoid. This difference of community and ignorance was an interesting concept for creative’s such as ourselves to evaluate the audience as human’s and that the performance is still just, even if being ignored.

 

Ignorance

‘I wanted to make a sci-fi theatre show that wasn’t a parody… and wasn’t shit’ – Gerard Tyler

Making my way to the Taliesin, I was already aware from Gerard Tyler’s talk earlier in the day that this was unlike any other Taliesin show – sight specific despite using a stage, there would be an element of performance beginning in the foyer/area surrounding.

Awareness of the show beginning was evident in several performers walking around us in the coffee area holding envelopes and giving them to bystanders waiting for the show. Immediately, this began a conversation between us of curiosity and somewhat, need for an envelope just to satisfy this. I felt that these performers ranged in ability – some seemed in a character from the moment they entered the space and didn’t break this till the very end of the entire show and others seemed to drift in and out, leaving myself feeling as if this was half-hearted. This also was supported by the, from what later was revealed as the ‘ranger’ characters sitting in what looked like discussion in character form, to actually discussion about what they were about to do as performers as well as performers panicking about the amount of participants, then breaking character to ask audience members to help with this, breaking the illusion that they had seemed to originally convey.

Split into groups, we were given warnings and spoken to in a careful manner, showing that we were entering into a world of risk. Taken outside to the back of the building, we waited, looking at a man with a hose splashing an outer door. On reflection, the wait made sense with different groups and the different communication; what we entered into being played over several times and effectively, we were waiting for this to finish for previous groups. On entering the building through the water and being dried by large fans, we were aware that our entrance was as much a performance as the performers were; coming onto the back of the stage, performers ran up to us and began speaking and touching us, despite ourselves being on strict instructions not to do the same, with the awareness that previous audience members were sat on the stage or in the seats, looking at us. This voyeuristic nature was also supported by large television screens with a CCTV aspect, where these audience members had been watching us during their own encounters with the performers.

We had entered, what would seem as an apocalyptic safe house – CCTV, brick o brack making up the interior of the safe house, a small garden and these creatures in human form and human clothing, who’s abilities ranged from simple, almost child-like husks of humans to a normal intelligence. For myself, I wasn’t sure about this change in ability, as it seemed at times the most simple of aspects were hard to grasp but at others, their knowledge was intelligent.

The set itself, dim lighting and extra terrestrial sound was spectacular – the feeling that you see in horror and sci-fi films where they choose to save themselves in something known yet desolate was executed well – a theatre that we know or can at least sympathise with being changed to house these simple beings and us. The element of fear was still given to us in the form of not going outside, the harm that the rain [hose] could give us and the outsiders that were spoken of getting in or following was conveyed by the rangers who seemed to believe in the story with other rangers still lacking in this execution and the group of creatures who’s response to these aspects was of terror. Then the contrast of this, knowing the door was locked and that we were safe, the serenity of the creatures after fearful moments, gave a rollercoaster feeling that you would have in such a dangerous, alien world.

Eventually, the rangers made hiccups. There was someone new looking at the CCTV, when the creatures were enjoying their sunlight to keep their pigment at a normal consistency and stuck in a trance from this that they could not wake from, the rangers breaks and allowance of going outside with no fear, began to confuse us – was this still a safe house and if so, how come they had no fear of the outside world? A rogue creature and their love for DVD’s during the break when she wasn’t tranced by the sunlight and the rangers away from the scene, was comical and gave a nice interlude to the heavy nature of this world, until she sees herself outside… why is she outside in the fearful world? Chaos ensues, doors are open and the reality is revealed – the hose of rain is an illusion for these creatures, they are in fact copies.

We are finally greeted by a man in a new suit, entering in an authoritative manner – a contrast to the uncoordinated clothing and submissive manner of the creatures. His manner would make him seem as if he is the bad guy, keeping this group in this place and not allowing them to be in the real world. But his explanation was to look after these ‘copies’ of other humans and the cruelty of the outside world, and now with police on the way, we could no longer buy these copies, which is the reason we were meant to be there, but take them home for free – an uneasy feeling of being given a human as a form of slavery or like a pet.

Leaving the theatre, this specific actors performance left you questionable as to whether his actions were of good intentions or cruel to these creatures. Performers continued their performance into the surrounding area for another 20 minutes, never breaking this illusion which was a nice contrast to the beginning.

The momentary confusion, the fear and relief we felt such as the creatures and realisation of reality at the end provoked interesting concepts about the future if we were to enter these fictional Sci fi worlds and while, as already said, this is only fiction, I must give credit to the community of creatures for their undeniable conveyance of this, making us as audience members feel the same thoughts and emotions throughout.

Review Gym Party at Chapter Arts Centre by Hannah Goslin

Gym Party by Made in China at Summerhall, Edinburgh

Gym Party

Made in China

Chapter Arts Centre

16/05/2014

Upon entering the performance space at Chapter the proscenium framing the stage immediately said to  the audience  fun, disco music and 3 names in huge lights gave the feeling that we are indeed in the ‘party’ aspect of the Gym Party. Settling into our seats, the performers entrance with a quirky dance instantly gave the sense of comedy and that we were about to see something fun and exciting.

Three performers with no specific gender at first, looked a little like disco Tim Henman’s dressed in  white tennis gear and bright, colourful and similar wigs these complimented the stage with their simplicity, which was very effective – we were then able to focus on the actions and words.

Joined together in their group, they began to speak to us, introducing themselves, their outlook on us and the world and finishing each other’s sentences with no break or falter. As a performer, the knowledge of trying to perfect this is always difficult and it was extremely admiring to see how well they executed this. Audience interaction was immediate – asking of audience members names and referring to them in their views of the world which gave a sense of individuality for the audience, until the character of Chris established that to him, we would be referred to as ‘the group.’

The contrast of individualism and community was a running theme – the three performers loved one another and were close as a group; they share, converse and communicate as a group but as individuals, they are each better than each other, and the Gym Party competition was how they showed this. The back and forward notion that they spoke in, from community to how good they were as individuals imitated what we think in society – that we want to work as teams, and think that we enter into this in a fair and innocent way but in any situation, we do this to try to show how good we are, to show that we are different to others, that we are an individual. Gym Party’s aim is to highlight this through comedy and games.

Gym Party consists of 3 scenes in repetition – the interludes I spoke of above, the games and the consolations for the losers. With three games, these sequences are repeated approximately three times (for three rounds of games) yet, this is never boring – each time we are given something new, a new game, a new story or new consolation prize. This is always energetic and keeps the audience interested and on their toes.

The games themselves are ridiculous and hilarious. Firstly we see games such as audience throwing skittles at the performers to catch, head stands and marshmallow eating – contrasts of pain, disgust and comedy all in one set to evoke different emotions from the audience. The more the show goes on, the more we see the vulnerability that they are trying to convey about themselves and us; the second and third games utilising this by showing the vulnerability of us as humans and making the audience chose winners by voting on ‘who do you think’ questions, asked by an ominous being through sound and evidently, to the performers obvious surprise, random ideals such as ‘who do you think is the best kisser.’ This impromptu execution of the questions was interesting to see how the performers recovered with reaction and action on the spot, however there were times where they seemed to lose this professionalism and broke the performance barrier, showing their true selves. While at times this was funny to see their humanity, it slightly broke the illusion of performance. The audience choice in the third game of who gets to have the ‘last dance’ as it were also showed this idea of choice, vulnerability and need to be liked.

While these comical moments gave great entertainment to us as audience members, we were soon shocked to see that the consolation prizes were of horrible moments, illustrating our extreme cruelty to ourselves. Ranging from beating themselves, to publicly humiliating one another’s personalities and looks to drowning each other in water. These moments broke the comical value, bringing the audience back to reality and how while we may want to work as a team, as Jess the character says, we will still ‘grind each other to dust.’

We were soon brought back to comedy and happiness with the ‘contestants’ elaborate and unprofessional dance routines to cheesy disco music. The use of this, the lights, the use of microphone to thank the audience after a win, Chris’s musical interlude with playing a song ‘Evelong’ by Foo Fighters to highlight a memory, and highlight an audience’s memory gave the feel of a game show, and so the positive and negative contrasts made this game show a cruel conveyance of reality.

Review – Verve – Postgraduate Performance of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance by Hannah Goslin

verve-14

Review – Verve – Postgraduate Performance of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance

Hannah Goslin

3rd May 2014 – National Dance Company Wales, Dance House

Entering the Dance House of the National Dance Company Wales, the audience already was a mix of a variety of demographics and all obviously full of excitement and interest for the show to unfold. For a postgraduate show, the turn out itself was very impressive.

The audience was left to become accustomed  in the dark until a golden haze crept across the stage, cast by the lighting to compliment the figures elegantly entering from the wings. The dancers were kitted out in skin tight golden one pieces, with enlarged bottoms. Straight away, this gave a comical effect to the beginning piece as well as a sense of confusion to the costume choices. ‘Re-wind’ took images from artist Yeruba Yelsdraeb, who drew grotesque images of figures with strange placements of their hands, large bottoms and grotesque faces. The idea behind the golden costumes in contrast to Yelsdraeb’s original Victorian style outfits was to show the contortions of the dancers bodies to compliment the grotesque characters as well as to de-gender-lise them – however, a skin tight suit obviously makes this a little difficult to achieve. I found myself in two minds about this piece; there was an element of melodrama with the facial expressions of the dancers and also an element of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ with what I interpreted from the narrative. Personally, I feel that, in dance, expressions are translated into the movements and without prior knowledge to the stimulus, it seemed out of place. However, the dancers strong movements were interesting but at the same time, left me wondering where the more ‘contemporary’ part of the dance element was.

A contrast to the first piece, ‘Mute’ began with very earthly music, costumes and scene. The programme describes this piece as ‘an intricate and haunting landscape in which narrative is torn between logic and lost meaning’ and this was very evident by the initial impressions. Mute showed more of a contemporary aspect to dance, with the usual fluidity that you would expect. However, there were contrasts between this fluidity and sharp movements, both from the dancers as an ensemble and as individuals standing out from the crowd. Dancers Marie-Corrin Chilon and Leanne Horsey, for me, stood out the most in this piece. Marie’s concentration and how she easily threw her elegant frame across the ‘haunting landscape’ was eye catching. Mute ended its stylish and energetic movements with Leanne’s jagged and intriguing movements of which seemed to become faster and faster till she was only a impacting blur.

After a short intermission, a new and completely different production unfolded. ‘You, Me, the Door and the Floor’ began as a comical and interesting work of performance art. An almost game show about love and relationships, the main character went through an experience of a dance blind date, picking planted dancers from the audience and experiencing what a relationship with each character would be like, to find the ‘one.’ A delightful and funny game show host in the form of dancer Sandro Piccirilli (who steals one of the potential loves) executed the comedy effect well and was consistently in character, as were all the dancers. Metaphorical images and use of voice and microphone technology gave this a different feel from a dance piece and was a very interesting concept. A image of a turbulent relationship with animalistic noises and dance-fight images illustrated to the audience something that we all could relate to. The energy that was put into images such as ‘jumping through hoops’ and unadulterated lust and love were consistently high and impressive to how these dancers managed to keep this at top peak while using acting and speech.

Finally, the piece that I felt we had slowly been leading up to, ‘Ocean.’ A reminiscence of ‘Mute’ with its early colours and warmth of the set and costumes was then slightly contrasted by the use of folk music, giving a more modern day twist to a potential mirroring piece. Ocean was astounding. Again, the level of energy seen through all the pieces was at its top and in fact, was above this with the constant fast paced movement. A use of deep and naturalist voices were used, resonating around the room and almost impacted you as an audience member deep down into your chest and stomach each time. Contrasts of the traditional contemporary movement to the naturalistic beating of the dancers feet with an external rhythm to the music was an impressive sight to see. The elements of dance, vocals, rhythm and acting skills show that these graduates are something special. Over all, the climax of the piece with this beat and vocals left you in complete awe and was the crescendo that one would want but not necessarily expect at the end of a contemporary dance piece.