The Riverfront Theatre, Newport. Fri 1 Mar
Dark, disturbing, hypnotic and atmospheric are a just a few of the adjectives that describe Friday’s show by National Dance Company Wales. Incredible is another. The evening opened with Marcus Morau’s Tundra, a long-standing piece of NDC Wales’ repertoire – a fluid masterpiece of movement that begins with the dancers, in Russian costume, gliding across the stage, seemingly on wheels. A swift change into brightly patterned body suits and the dancers connect to propel the audience through emotional and physical landscapes, akin to the changing of the seasons. An illustration of connection and disconnection. The bar was set at the highest notch.
Following that were two premieres. In Afterimage (Fernando Melo), mirrors and a magician’s technique called Pepper’s Ghost are used to create an ethereal layering effect. Dancers, lights and music work in perfect symmetry and the audience is invited to make their own interpretation of the narrative. I went for the rather clichéd ‘ghosts of the past intrude on the present’ myself but the piece went deeper than that. This mini-playlet is more restrained and less intricate than the other two performances but provided breathing space before the grand finale.
Caroline Finn’s Reveller’s Mass – at thirty-two minutes, the longest of the three segments – takes its inspiration from paintings such as Da Vinci’s The Last Supper. The scene is set as a medieval banqueting hall with a long candle-lit table, several naked shop mannequins and nine dancers in evening dress. This is one hedonistic, irreverent and macabre party – I won’t give away any spoilers here but there is a fair dose of humour too. So many things were happening simultaneously on stage it was hard to know where to look first. Like a film with a complex plot, I’d like to watch this show again just to see what I missed.
Throughout the three performances there wasn’t a murmur from the audience, no mobile phone screens shining, just absolute stillness – thus is the power of dance. Superb.
words Lynda Nash
Awakening is currently on tour around England and Wales and is at Taliesin, Swansea on Thu 4 Apr, Aberystwyth Arts Centre on Wed 24 April, and Sherman Theatre, Cardiff on Wed 1-Thu 2 May. Tickets and info here