After 16 months, 170 applications, 16 semi-finalists, 7 finalists and 26 performances, The Place Prize finally came to an end last night.
A sort of X Factor for the contemporary dance world, the Place Prize culminates in 10 'finals' where the audience vote for their favourite piece nightly, the winner of each receiving £1,000. On the very final night, a panel of experts choose the ultimate Place Prize winner, who receives £25,000 courtesy of sponsor, Bloomberg.
Interestingly, 4 out of 5 of the judges come from arts backgrounds other than dance - Hannah Barry (art), Zena Edwards (performance poetry), Rupert Goold (theatre), Matthew Peacock (opera) with only Laurie Uprichard representing dance, as director of Dublin Festival. Here's what the final final looked like last night.
First up, Eva Recacha’s ‘Begin To Begin’ uses understated choreography portraying the repeated death, attempted murder and resurrection of three dancers against the nursery rhyme “Michael Finnegan”. ‘Begin To Begin’ has the strongest dance content of the night, the cast pushing themselves to the point of collapse. The final image is of one of the dancers lying on the floor, bathed in spotlights.
The darling of the audiences, Ben Duke & Raquel Meseguer’s ‘It Needs Horses’, is next, featuring Chris Evans and Anna Finkel as two failed circus performers desperate for the audience’s approval (and spare change). The strength of the piece is in Chris’s and Anna’s personalities and presence, whether through Chris’s deadpan responses or Anna’s nervous smiles. The scenes cover masturbation, tango, wrestling, a new take on THAT When Harry Met Sally scene – and at the end, Anna substituting for a horse, only to escape.
Riccardo Buscarini’s and Antonio de la Fe Guedes’ ‘Cameo’ is a film noir murder mystery notable for its lack of dance content, mystery or even murder. Opening with Mariana Camiloti disposing of a corpse, the ‘Cameo’ centres around the insidious unease and fear of the three performers as they listen to dogs barking, clocks ticking and other unheard noises.
Freddie Opuku-Addai’s and Frauke Requart’s ‘Fidelity Project’ is a piece about playfighting, playfulness, popcorn and the colour red. ‘Fidelity Project’, a work in progress since 2009, offers these two seasoned choreographers a chance to be performers for the first time, and they relish every second of it, clowning around and testing each others’ limits.
For the first time in the history of the Place Prize the audience and experts agreed on the overall winner. Winning 9 out of 10 of the audience votes, Ben Duke & Raquel Meseguer’s ‘It Needs Horses’ also won the judges approval, meaning a most desirable windfall of £34,000 for their company, Lost Dog.