17 – 22 Aug, 1600 (1700) @ Venue 150, EICC
By Danielle Farrow
Booking Dance, billed as a dance “festival within a festival”, showcases artists from the US in ‘bite-sized festival format’. Rock It! is the third in this programme of four and features seven companies, two of whom present works that also appeared the first programme entry, Beautiful (previously reviewed).
These two, among the strongest in Beautiful, were: Body Stories / Teresa Fellion Dance with Fault Line, again offering a harmony and connection which brought a depth of feeling to the stage in a piece that looks to be connected to contact improvisation; Michael Mao Dance’s Weaving – a ritualistic piece, including bird and beast elements, to Japanese drumming, colourful and dramatic.
The strength of these companies was met by Vox Dance Theatre in another dramatic group presentation, an excerpt from the work Fimne, performed to Concerto for Violin and Orchestra by Philip Glass. Clad in white wedding gowns, with beams of light playing behind them, the Vox dancers filled the space with symbolism and pattern, and intrigued with a touch of red which presumably comes into the dance in the full length version.
Perhaps the strongest presentation, for this reviewer, was that of project: Smith & Peluso, whose three shorts included story, gesture, humour, and strong partnership in very clear, clean, controlled lines – without the control blocking connection to each other or the audience. Smith also appears in Freespace Dance’s Butt Rock, which is presumably what inspired the title of this programme (the others only loosely connect to it). Butt Rock’s idea is based on a rock concert, with mini stories, including crowd surfing, and it has a fun, rocky element, with impressive partner work, but here the controlled choreography does keep the energy from exploding fully.
There are also two very contrasting contributors adding unique character to Rock It! Ballroom Dancing for Tough Guys presents three shorts which explore ballroom dance within elegance, self-parody and film noir frames, again with humour and story, though also with a touch of ham. Ragamala Dance’s Indian music and dance impressed with the detail of precise beat, gesture and expression – beautifully offered to the audience – and was one of the first to benefit from the golden lighting design that cast dancing shadows. There was also a welcome change into a piece with pathos, but its overly-dramatic voiceover translation spoilt the purity of the dance moves.
Rock It! is the most varied in presentation of the Booking Dance programme so far, and this adds to its appeal for non-dancing viewers. The final of the four programmes in this mini-festival is Athletic, and includes work by the enterprising Michael Mao, entertaining Ballroom Dancing for Tough Guys and experimental Freespace Dance – it seems likely to impress again.