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Tough Boys Dance CollectiveDug Meat

Hollie MillerLeda and the Swan

Greeting the audience with a healthy amount of smoke and a large plastic bowl in the centre of the space, Brink created by SharkLegs duo Kezia Cole and Richard Hay, was a dystopian exploration of instability. Trapped in this bowl in a yellow boiler suit, performer Sean Croft screamed wildly as he tried to free his limbs from its edges, gather the smoke around him, and capture a laser beam. Croft played to his audience masterfully, enthralling them with dramatic gestures and larger-than-life expressions. Despite this impressive feat of physical storytelling, the piece felt drawn out and I found myself wanting more - what would happen if the bowl tipped and Croft moved into the void beyond? As Croft teetered on the bowl, the narrative arc of the piece wobbled into redundancy.

Dug Meat
created by the Tough Boys Dance Collective offered the audience reckless and unhinged movement contained in a cyclic pattern. The performers began lying flat on their stomachs with their limbs spread, before breaking into brilliantly chaotic solos. The piece evolved into a raw, animalistic spectacle as the dancers gnashed their teeth, snarled, and climbed over one another. This escalated to the point of shaking convulsions and maniacal laughter, a sort of crazed ritual before the dancers fell back to the ground. The grounded technical prowess of the dancers contrasted with their wild movement revealing a certain self-awareness, and leaving the audience wondering if the dancers were out of control or expertly controlling them.

Choreographed and performed by Hollie Miller, Leda and the Swan recounted the Greek myth of the rape of Leda by Zeus disguised as a swan. Clad in nude underwear, Miller pulled a swan puppet out of a large egg and cleverly manipulated it to depict the myth. Miller violently dismembered the swan, pulled a red morph suit out of it, and put it on. While the conceit of re-imagining this myth is compelling, ironically it was not until the very last moment of the piece did we glimpse Leda’s agency. The piece depicted brutality rather than Leda’s journey of healing and resilience.

Sophie Visscher

The final evening of Resolution 2023 took place in the round, giving a 360-degree view of Brink from Sharklegs, a spiralling bid for survival. Sean Croft plays an astronaut trapped in space, or maybe a refugee of nuclear apocalypse – the specifics aren’t clear, but the air of disaster is, right down to his screeching vocalisations and neon boilersuit. Perched in a large plexiglass bowl, he lurches in limbo, chasing an elusive green light. While the storytelling goes to some stirring places – the light, for example, develops from an intriguing Tinkerbell to a companion he can’t bear to lose – the movement vocab is narrow, restricted to wobbling clambers in the bowl, which Croft never leaves. I’m not sure the conceit is robust enough to justify its own confines.

Five dancers undergo a creaturely evolution in Tough Boys Dance Collective’sDug Meat, morphing from creeping mud-dwellers into slinking predators and finally something humanoid and tribal. The feral middle sequence is a highlight, especially when two performers square off in a snarling could-be-mating/could-be-combat tussle. The staggering, trance-like convulsions of the final moments also shine bright.

Hollie Miller
rounds things off with a dread-filled take on the swan, knocking it from its fanciful balletic heights. This is no Odette but the feathered camouflage of Zeus when he rapes Leda, drafted in here as a proxy for sexual violence. A topless Miller extracts a plumed carcass from a colossal egg, shrinking from its snaking, phallic neck; later she wears it in pieces as a voiceover describes a vengeful decapitation. In between are some artful gestures at violation as well as some explicit simulations of it. The latter have the unfortunate effect of undoing the former, diminishing the premise of reclamation promised in her retelling. Do we need to depict violence against women to condemn it? Of the many questions to unpack in this complex meditation, this is the one that lingers.

Sara Veale