Bare bodies, gorilla suits and William Blake; if you’re a fan of the surreal, Summer House at The Place is a season of dance for you.
Artists such as Bloom! Dance collective and Athens based company Rootlessroot display the best of international dance talent in the Robin Howard Dance Theatre, whilst in the altogether snugger (and no-doubt terrifying for the choreographer) setting of the studio, the audience has an intimate experience of artists in action.
‘Touch Wood’ studio performances vary from the ‘nearly there’ to the ‘barely begun’, the highlight so far being founding member of DV8, Nigel Charnock’s, masterful monologue, ironically with not a dance move in sight.
Striking a glorious balance between the hilarious and the hard-hitting, Bloom!’s theatre-based work, City, is a wonderfully silly statement of identity in the big smoke. Packed with personality, quirky gestural movement and a charming set of dancers, City, explores how we perceive others through a series of comedic duets, distressing discrimination and identity filled solos.
Terrorizing their audience with a much darker comment on society, Rootlessroot express their disturbed discontent through a torrent of violent movement performed with outstanding energy. Their work, Eyes in the Colours of the Rain is a feast of vision and sound that shocks and confuses. Rootlessroot don’t ask for understanding but demand attention.
Finally, Big Girls Do Big Things by Elanor Bauer is a cabaret performance piece encapsulating an empty-promise. A loose web of political metaphors strung together by the impending extinction of the polar bear, she slices open an already dead one, bringing it to freakishly fluid life. Despair, rising in octaves and up a step-ladder, leads to a clumsy decent and a dying swan. Some canny images from the fashion world and pushing ridiculousness to its upper limit make this a bold yet frustrating piece.
By Jemma Bicknell and Jen Teale
The Summer House season continues at The Place till 16 September.