The unconventional sharing of works is, in its irony, becoming more and more regular. From large scale outdoor performances such as Corey Baker’s Kapa Haka Tale, to the creating of utopian settings such as Jasmin Vardimon’s The Maze, it seems artists are embracing new open-minded ways to showcase contemporary dance.
Enter Kaleidoscopic Arts Platform, a stage for female choreographers to showcase works. “By having each platform take place in a unique space – not traditionally intended for dance”, said founders Lucia Schweigert and Konstantina Skalionta, “the works appear in a new context”.
The third event of the ever progressive platform on Tuesday 10th November saw four performed pieces, and displays of artwork, brought to an unconventional setting – a pub local to East London.
The Galvanisers Union, located in Bow, offered an intimate rectangular space where the audience sat almost in-the-round. The space was secluded from the main bar area to my surprise, so allowed for a more expected audience and performer interaction; rather than an incredibly new experience.
This did not however make the event orthodox.
The first performance was an unusual experience. Sat opposite the entrance to the intimate space – meaning the back of the stage, I witnessed the extract of Our Physical Intentions by Anna-Lise Marie Dance from an odd perspective. This piece, created originally for the stage, explores how thoughts directly determine and influence emotions.
Moving seamlessly into choreographed duets, solos and trios, performers Laura Boulter, Lydia Costello, and Eleanor Mackinder portrayed feelings of entrapment in tangled stills and pictures, and frantic energetic movements and ticks. Viewing from the back, I only caught a few glimpses of the emotive side of the performance. Technique and form grew in stature due to this, with beautiful lines and contact work being highlights. Notably, the instances where I did see the emotive intentions became much more intense; heightened by the loud hum of the composed music and haunting whispers.
It also became quite clear the performers, wrapped in ripped skin coloured body suits, were struggling with the space’s shape – an instance, my foot being swept after a deep lunge. There were many unintended audience acknowledgments, which made for a much more intimate and conscious performance; from audience and dancers alike. Perhaps this outcome truly marries with the platform’s intention – to view works in a new context.
Unlike its predecessor, this piece was created specifically for this space. Sarah Louise Kristiansen’s Metallic Limbs was born out of research into the body storing emotions into different parts of the body. Kristiansen attempts to answer the questions ‘What does it mean to have a body that feels? Where do we store emotions and can we talk about limbs as a functioning organ for experiencing emotions?’ in this piece of physical theatre.
Louise Durrant and Laura Powney took on the task to express these thoughts on the stage, with moving dialogue about loneliness and a focus on storytelling. Some movements at times felt like fillers in between each dialogue, yet things came to life once contact was introduced. The dancers moved around the space and were intimate with the audience (a chalkboard was given to a keen viewer at one point).
The focus on storytelling, through use of dialogue and prop, undermined the importance of movement at times. Yet I am only to look to the envelope I was handed on my entrance to the event, which contained a Pina Bausch quote, to understand the piece for what it was – powerfully emotive.
“To understand what I’m saying, you have to believe that dance is something other than technique. We forget where the movements come from. They are born from life. When you create a new work, the point of departure must be contemporary life.” Pina Bausch
Lizzie J Klotz explores the behavioural patterns of animals, and draws a comparison between bird courtship rituals and human interactions. Embracing theatrical humour, To Suit focuses on body language and raucous animalistic cries to make a point. The dance-theatre performance brought to life by Charlie Dearnley and Alys North is nothing short of brilliant.
The first part of the choreography set the tone for the performance. With a self-body caress and clasping of butt cheeks by Charlie Dearnley, the audience could not help but laugh (and question whether the serious tone set by the past two performances would be followed).
Treated with Twist inspired grooves and synchronised shoulder shimmies, the performance verged on satire. An intense moment, and a great highlight, was the long-lasting, continuous screams by the duo without movement. Witnessed from the back, this particular moment added to my unorthodox experience. I felt I was screaming with them and joining that animalistic ritual, rather than observing and being screamed at, as the audience in front of them perhaps felt.
Klotz craftily blends classical music, choreography and costume to create a unique and brilliant piece of theatre. It’s a shame the features that made it great in my eyes were at times a distraction from the thought-provoking dialogue and attempted narrative.
To those who were craving audience interaction, Esther Manon Siddiquie’ Suitcase – Ein Tanzstück für Zuschauer fit the bill. Beginning with a voice over, Siddiquie took the audience on a journey of random encounters and experiences.
Firstly laying out the contents of the suitcase – flowers, pens, scrolls of paper, a party popper, and a notepad – Siddiquie took time to address the audience and make everyone very aware. Volunteers were handed flowers by the smiling choreographer, as well as scrolls of paper with target words – Timer, Start, Sound to name a few. We were handed a photograph each of the suitcase in different environments. The choreographer then performed a 3 minute solo to a viewer’s favourite song (Beyonce’s Love on Top was the winner).
Intimacy became a staple in this performance. Siddiquie’s interference with parts of the audience as they moved to place their pictures in the space made for a somewhat comical and intentionally awkward performance. Losing track of her movement, I was led to focus on each individual and their reactions as they rose from their seats and onto the stage.
The audience became the core of the performance, with Siddiquie’s solo in the peripheral vision. I can only summarise this as being intentional. Bar the voice over opening the act, the audience were crucial, if not more so, than Siddiquie herself in this performance. The overall oddity of this performance left me very aware of the process yet undecided about the outcome. It simply was a quirky, unpredictable and interactive experiment.
Kaleidoscopic Arts Platform aims to showcase new, experimental dance works and this event did just that. From emotive to humorous pieces, and provocative and bold art from Jonna Tideman and Vasiliki Stasinaki, the 3rd platform brought incredibly interesting works.
The space perhaps resembled a traditional setting, however, due to seating arrangements. This idea was discussed in the Q&A session, with many audience members intrigued about where the next event will take place.
More notably, ideas of programme writing were brought up by none other than dance critic Luke Jennings; leading to a long debate about the necessity of piece descriptions and whether they prejudice viewers into expectations rather than consuming the work and making their own interpretations.
This progressive platform is creating a ripple of interest in both the arts and media industry. After a great, intriguing, and interesting night of creative exploration, I wait in eager anticipation for the direction Kaleidoscopic Arts Platform will next take.