A group of dancers lie on the floor like a human pretzel, before weaving in and out each other in a kaleidoscopic tangle of limbs to the itchy electro of The Chromatics’ ‘Tick Of the Clock’. It’s all the more remarkable for the fact that the age groups here range from the 30s up to the 70s. This astonishing piece of work is a collaborative piece, six years in its development and making, by choreographers Robbie Synge and Lucy Boyes.
ENSEMBLE is the title, and it’s elegiac, powerful, witty and absolutely breathtaking in its scope and ideas. Each dancer gets to freestyle to the gorgeously gloomy folk of Lump with ‘Late to The Flight’, or in Christine Thynne’s case, try and balance glasses of water while rolling gently on the floor to Velvet Underground and Nico’s classic ‘I’ll Be Your Mirror’. She spills, then cheekily hurls the water, anyway.
Angus Balbernie and Synge’s face-off parodies the macho posturing of the schoolyard, and emulates the Marx Brothers vaudeville flourishes, resulting in a ridiculous wrestling match (Balbernie has terrific comedic instincts) and the pair rolling over each other. Judy Adams’ duet with Boyes is a more delicate mirroring scene, but no less full of humour, and no less challenging.
But it’s the incredible strength on display which causes hearts to go into mouths. Adams balances Synge on her feet, even though she’s much, much smaller than him, and he in turns spins her by her legs, her head barely missing the floor as she turns. At times, I almost watch through my fingers. My nerves can’t take it… It’s both outrageous and entirely impressive work, from a company who seem to run on pure instinct, trust in each other, and adrenaline.
Rope-work again brings old- school tricks to the space, with Thynne swishing the rope like a bad-ass cowgirl above her head, increasing in speed and then getting wider, finally lowering the rope , and catching the dancers’ legs as they circumnavigate the floor in a frenetic whirl. Thynne and Adams pull the rope taut, then strain it against each other standing at either end like a two woman tug o’war, chatting away as they do, as if nobody were watching.
Above all, the poise, balance and movements of all are life-affirming, playful and a reminder that dance doesn’t have to be dominated by the youth market to be a creative force for good. Bravo, and brava to all. An outstanding achievement.
Reviewed at CCA, Glasgow.
Part of Dance International Festival.