Dance House, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, Mon 5 Nov
National Dance Company Wales presented a trio of contemporary works from award-winning dancers/choreographers under the name of Roots, and each was completely different and held interest. Artistic Director Fearghus Ó Conchúir gave a brief introduction and hosted a chat/Q&A after each. First up was the 10-minute Omertà by Cardiff-based Matteo Marfoglia. Omertà is a code or conspiracy of silence about criminal activity and a refusal to give evidence to the police. Sounds of a clock countdown began the piece, then a spotlight was on an individual figure for a few seconds. The dancers (Kat Collings, Camille Giraudeau, Aisha Naamani and Elena Sgarbi) were in loosely flowing widow’s weeds, all with a bucket that these mothers, wives, sisters and daughters are chained to during their invariable lives. Various duties were performed during which you heard cries, gasps and whisperings against constant ticking. The women temporarily are freed from their forced silence and drudgery by removing their veils and break out in a feverish dance to the aptly titled Domina De Miseria by the female vocal quartet Faraualla. Saw violence of stabbing motions. Movements such as water splashing and wringing signified the cleansing of blood and guilt. The most interesting part wasn’t so much the middle but the beginning and end. A powerful work from the promising Marfoglia.
Giraudeau was the solo artist starring in resident choreographer Caroline Finn’s Bernadette. While the weakest in regards to the actual dancing, it had the most emotional impact for me. Bernadette could be seen as a comedy about a woman who, after watching a TV cooking demonstration, tries to bake a cake, with very messy results. If you suffer from OCD however, you can see the meticulous preparation and then meltdown when the mind gets overloaded and short-circuits. In this Diary of a Mad Housewife-esque tale, Giraudeau’s emotions weren’t just conveyed through her body – the anxiety and fear were etched on her face. She was calm and orderly when the poignantly sad song In a Manner of Speaking was playing, then alarmed and frantic when Kodo drummers burst out and everything went haywire. Was the wig symbolic of struggling to keep order and trying to cover up imperfection?
Mario Bermudez Gil stated his Atalaÿ (‘Watchtower’) was inspired by a beautiful 360 view in southern Spain with movement based on the four points of a compass. You could imagine looking over to North Africa and further in the dance that had a very ancient yet sometimes modern feel. Different composers and musicians were used for a mix that included electronic, hip-hop, dub, south-Asian and traditional Turkish sounds. The longest – at just over 20 minutes – this had the most varied and experimental choreography. Simply draped in earthen tones wearing wide belts, Collings, Mathew Prichard, Sgarbi and Tim Volleman were excellent portraying what could have been farmers, traders and/or warriors. I saw dancing that made me envision Egyptian hieroglyphic figures, wrestling and horseback riding all within a distinct terra firma atmosphere. Not as effusive as the other two, there were moments of male love and perhaps a death. All talent to watch out for.
At various locations throughout Wales until 24 Nov.
Tickets: From £10. Info: 029 2063 5600 / www.ndcwales.co.uk
words Rhonda Lee Reali