As part of the Birmingham International Dance Festival 2022, Carlos Acosta, director of Birmingham Royal Ballet, brought three very different works together for an evening to celebrate the arrival of the Commonwealth Games to Birmingham. Acosta herself actually sat in line for my mom and myself, adding to our already great excitement!
The evening opened with Juliano Nunes’ interconnected, a never-before-seen work inspired by the games, with music by composer Luke Howard. I really enjoyed this piece, especially the versatility of the dance styles, and the different pairings and groupings of the dancers kept the audience captivated.
The duets were particularly tactile, exemplifying the dance’s “Interlinked” title, and compelling to watch. While I didn’t feel that the themes and values of the Commonwealth were necessarily communicated, I really enjoyed the diversity of the dance this may reflect. Moments of synchronicity and then variety at the same time were incredibly beautiful.
second came Lazuli Sky, for me the highlight of the evening, by Birmingham-born choreographer Will Tuckett. This dance originated during the pandemic and was originally performed at The Rep in 2020, but fit in perfectly On your marks! The emphasis here seemed to be on natural forms, with both the costumes and the movements of the dancers themselves reflecting the natural world. Spirals, in particular, were used with great success, with the dancers’ fan-shaped skirts evoking shells, flowers and fossils (see image).
The lighting was also used in this sense, depicting water, ripples and spirals emphasizing the dancers’ movements and continuing the natural theme. The solo and partner dances here were breathtaking with the movements evoking images of bloom and bloom. Overall, this was a beautiful dance, accompanied by an incredible score, and composer John Adams actually joined the dancers on stage in front of the curtain, emphasizing the vital role music plays in dance.
Finally, Acosta Danza and Birmingham Royal Ballet teamed up for the evening’s third performance, 24† This dance involved 72 bottles, combined with 24 dancers, and a huge element of risk and unpredictability: in fact, each performer had to learn 72 roles for the dance, and the one they would perform was randomly determined at three points in the piece, depending on their position at that time. Choreographer Jorge Crecis adapted this piece by 12originally performed by only Acosta Danza, and in the program he explains how in the performance there is a risk of going on autopilot and performing movements without necessarily being present in the dance.
Of 24Crecis wanted to create a piece in which the dancers had to remain fully engaged and react immediately to changes and mistakes, such as dropping bottles or being in a slightly different position. The dance looked incredibly engaging to engage in and a clear sense of achievement and enjoyment was communicated as the dancers put in some impressive performances.
However, I felt that 24 didn’t always hit the right spot for me: there were times when, with the frenetic running around the stage and calling numbers and names, it felt more like a slightly ill-organized netball practice with a few too many people, rather than a dance . While it was interesting to see the aspects of communication not normally visible in dance, sometimes it took away the beauty of the movements themselves.
That said, the slightly more typically ‘choreographed’ elements of the dance were very impressive and more fun to watch. It was the intermediate aspects, finding positions and rearranging the bottles that I would have liked to have missed, but it remained an incredibly impressive performance and undoubtedly showed the amazing level of commitment the dancers had to maintain to get the dance done. .
General, On your marks! was a wonderful evening of dancing, with three very different performances, all of which were unique and impressive in their own way.
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