We said it would be unpredictable. We weren't wrong. We also hinted at nudity and, oh yes, we got the full frontal and more. However, the opening night of the "Touch Wood" new and work in progress season at The Place was strangely lacking in buzz.
Unfortunate surprise number one was that Probe, who we'd been hotly anticipating, were all a bit poorly and had to pull out. So, actual programming by the seat of the pants came into play and there was a last minute shoe-in for Jin-Yeob Cha and her delightful sub-umbrella duet replete with "I can't believe it's raining so hard on me" super arm flinging and squatting plus upright rolling around on her partner's hand shenanigans. 4 minutes: excellent.
Interesting and challenging work preceded from Colin Poole who got naked, confrontational and deeply probing in a half hour performance that pushed the audience to new levels of "how comfortable am I with cock for the sake of art" self-examination. He also pulled off exquisite dance with his flawless body but sometimes it's really hard to be grown up and concentrate on the meaning when the dancer in front of you is totally nude, uninhibited and provocative. Oh, and talking to you.
Tonight was about ideas; concepts and movement at varying degrees of development. The first few minutes of Ajose Cutting Dance's BASE was an entrancing conversation between a vocalist and a dancer, united by their common breaths. Zoi Dimitriou's slow, reverse parade around the floor unfurling a microphone cord set the scene for a story. However, both rolled out disappointingly, despite strong performances.
Bewilderingly, Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company completed the bill presenting the fantastic 7 minute "Prologue" - but this was first performed in 2004 and can hardly qualify as work in progress, however great this particular strong and dynamic Indian/contemporary dance cross over piece actually is (- it was really enjoyable but shouldn't count).
A weird night at The Place. We said you'd have to suck and it and see and we stand by that. No reason not to give it a go though, Londoners. Be brave and cut your contemporary dance teeth this autumn.
Image by Shaun Webb courtesy of The Place.