It is not the mission of this reviewer to savage or denigrate the work of other artistes, especially young ones, but it is hard to offer more than lukewarm praise for the programme of dance and physical theatre presented by Dance Horizons tonight. Yes, there are some dancers who undeniably have talent, but, overall, the whole show is brought down to the level of mediocracy by uninspired and – at times – amateurish choreography, over-long solo pieces and clumsy staging. Not to mention some poor lighting design.
Martha Graham, the grand vizier of contemporary dance, is alleged to have urged her ballerinas to “dance from the vagina” and it is certainly a piece of advice that could have been passed on to tonight’s performers. Yes, they can move and stretch, and, yes, they remember the steps they’ve been taught meticulously, but there is no verve, no passion in their performance. Nothing to make the hairs on the back of the neck stand up.
There Is No Excuse from Danse-Ed Company starts promisingly but descends into an over-long series of seemingly unrelated sequences that detract from its opening dramatic starkness as a bleak voice track recounts a tale of non-consensual sex, and though the piece redeems itself with an imaginative finale it suffers terribly from a soggy middle. You Me and Them from Unearthed Dance Company is more gymnastics than dance and, although it is a welcome change to see dancers liberated from the current-day body fascism of classical companies, it does nothing to convey its alleged message of exploring government surveillance. And whereas Paul Michael Henry is undoubtedly a dancer of extreme ability, his lengthy performance piece is well over the heads of tonight’s Mom and Pop audience and – to be brutally honest – kinda boring.
Frankly, though the audience of proud Mums and Dads give the acts rapturous applause, these performances would not fare well in an away-from-home theatre. These often very promising youngsters really need better and more rigorous training if they hope to survive in the savagely competitive world of professional dance that awaits them.