They sexed up suggestively last year, this year they've gone broken cyber-droid but all to demonstrate the Royal Opera House's commitment to performing arts in the widest sense and showcase ROH2's eye for new talent and cutting edge work to be squished into 6 nights at the Linbury Studio downstairs.
Firsts first programme opened with some fairly standard contemporary dance fare from Ajose Cutting Dance, made interesting by a live rock band on stage, sitting on individual, mobile pedestals whilst thrashing out some indie cool epic guitaring whilst gazing at the floor. The 3 female dancers could wheel them back and forth in between their emotive performances, although this didn't seem to have any bearing on the piece. To follow, a film shown on 2 screens put dancers' bodies under the microscope but failed to intrigue or amaze.
Matthias Sperling perked up the second half with 'Riff'. His starting point is other people's work. Taking signature phrases from Laila Diallo, William Forsythe and Shobana Jeyasingh he performs them meticulously, a digital display indicating who's up when. Sperling gradually distorts and mashes the three phrases together, riffing off the originals but evolving something completely new. The ending tailed off but this was fun, interesting and charismatic.
ROH2's commissioned new work for this year, 'About Blindness' by A2 Company had its world premiere to complete the bill in a truly different, thought provoking and moving way. Reminding us that life wasn't always so overwhelmingly dictated by technology a series of potent images are built by A2's Anton and Alit, using simple props; a picture frame, some guttering, a crinoline, and the charged interaction between the performers. The piece tries to reframe our experience of the world and challenge what we accept as normal. They remind us what there was - as the hypnotic spoken text refrains - "to begin with...." 'About Blindness' surprises, amuses and provides an alternative lens through which to examine the state we're in. It truly endorses Firsts ambition to be 'genre-defying'. To close, a diverse collection of people arrive on stage and quietly expose their naked backs.
With all tickets just £5 some nights sold out incredibly fast but call the Box Office on 020 7304 4000 for information. There are 3 different castings over 6 nights, this lot perform again tonight, further mixed bills on Tue 18/Weds 19, Fri 22/Sat 23.