H2 Dance Co is a ‘pre-professional’ company affiliated to Hope College, Michigan that provides, among other things, professional dance and touring experience to its members. In this year’s Fringe, they present a new, full-length work, Dieser Ort (This Place), a fusion of contemporary and modern dance, choreographed by one of the group’s co-artistic directors, Matthew Farmer.
There are so many chairs! Each member of the sixteen-strong ensemble comes with her own chair, and they crowd the small dance floor, Ionesco-like. The space doesn’t really have, in particular, the depth to accommodate this many dancers and that many chairs, but the dancers do their best in this cramped area, and incredibly never crash into each other.
The choreography lacks genuine focus, meandering around its various ideas without properly developing them. The work as a whole would benefit from being more concise: it has really run out of steam well before it ends. The chairs drag the dancers down somewhat, and Dieser Ort works best in those brief moments where the dancers are unshackled from them, and where the choreography is bolder and less fussy.
There are unfortunately a few technical difficulties too. The ends of the soundtracks are poorly edited and click as they finish, and the lighting is poorly controlled, to its detriment lacks side lighting, and doesn’t really add anything to the production. At least some of these problem are, of course, bound to be due to deficiencies in the venue and lack of rehearsal time.
There is generally a lack of attention to detail, in the dancers’ movements and the production as a whole. What it lacks in detail, however, it certainly makes up for in passion. The dancers have a huge energy and throw themselves into what is, after all, a challenging work, with great panache. Nevertheless, it may be that this is neither the best work, nor the best venue, for the company to show off their strengths fully.