Spring Loaded @ The Place: Probe & Sonia Sabri Company

By Londonist Last edited 85 months ago
Spring Loaded @ The Place: Probe & Sonia Sabri Company

In March we cherry picked 4 items from the Spring Loaded platter to recommend to you. Did we do good? Here are the first 2 reviews.

Let's start with the modern mélange of dance and music from street to South Asian that is Kathakbox, a riot of sight and sound, worthy of much larger audiences than the intimate crowd that gathered to watch Saturday’s one off performance at The Place.

A witty look at the Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form that increasingly plagues modern society, Kathakbox, based on the poem Tick Box by Shan Bansil, is an artistic feast, as rich in cultural diversity as it is in humour.

Effervescent choreographer and traditional Kathak performer, Sonia Sabri weaves the purity of South Asian dance with the warblings of musical director Sarvar Sabri in a dialogue between cultures and styles. Beat boxing, break dancing and some good old fashioned audience participation are blended, on the seemingly contracting and expanding stage, to create a tight-knit performance in which no detail is over-looked.

Stamped with the approval of Artistic Consultant Jonzi D (the super-cool mastermind behind the UK’s biggest Break Dance festival ‘Breakin’ Convention’) Kathakbox is a colourful and comedic production for the masses.

In contrast, Probe opened the season with their new work, May, striking a darker and more challenging experimental note.

May is a 'telling' of a tragic human story using music, text and movement. May is a damaged young woman with a history of abuse, neglect and self-harm. She has a middle class social worker who tries and fails to help her. Haunted by May, the social worker turns her into words which he reads at a liberal writers group, apparently as his own therapy.

The work blurs boundaries across media and between fantasy and reality. There's also some dance - glimpses of which are tantalising yet snatched away before they become satisfying. And that's our main complaint. Why do something with words when you have dancers as talented as Antonia Grove and Ben Duke to work with? Not that they can't also speak, sing and act but text is frequently lost, distracting or inefficient in relation to the story where just a minute of Grove fighting with her own body or his, tells so much more.

We liked the gently comedic setting made possible through musician, Scott Smith's hosting but largely May left us feeling uncomfortable and disappointed - less at the horrible story than at the clumsy handling of it through narrative and the lurking suspicion that an educational agenda underpins this work rather than an artistic one.

However, Donald Hutera has eloquent things to say about it in The Times and Lise Smith finds it a brave experiment over at Londondance.com.

Jen Teale wrote about Kathakbox. Lindsey Clarke wrote about May.

Spring Loaded is at the Place from 4 May – 18 June. Tickets £6 advance, £13 standard.

Last Updated 11 May 2011