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Vittorio PaganiA Solo in the Spotlight

Sunniva Moen Rørvik Red Lick

Jayde EdwardsMirror mirroR

Vittorio Pagani’s
A Solo in the Spotlights, was a clever self-aware piece of dance theatre that utilised movement, text, and sound to playfully melt the theatrical fourth wall. Pagani dared to let the audience see his struggles and insecurities, beyond the polished final product we typically see on stage. In just bright pink socks, underwear, and a mask, Pagani was completely on display, performing precisely choreographed phrases that devolved into disarray as a voiceover offered him harsh feedback and instructions. Dancing to upbeat techno and flashing rejection letters on the screen behind him, Pagani’s vulnerability enabled the audience to experience him wrestling with both the euphoria of performing as well as the pressure and self-doubt it brings.

With fiery passion and triumphant queer joy, Sunniva Moen Rørvik lip-synced Trønderrock through the audience in their piece Red Lick. The piece opened with upbeat techno blasting while the dancers glared at the audience, slowly putting on sunglasses with militaristically precise unison, before starting a minimalistic groove and isolated pelvic thrust. This humorous and absurd tone continued throughout the piece, as Rørvik, aided by their committedly expressionless ensemble, re-created iconic pop-culture moments, interspersed with interludes of physical comedy. Red Lick integrated thoughtfully choreographed specificity with fabulous chaos, filling the theatre with the intimate warmth and unbridled joy of dance.

Featuring four dancers split into two couples, Jayde Edwards’ intricately choreographed Mirror mirroR began with the couples on either side of a clothes rail, which acted as a mirror. As the music and tension of the piece built, the dancers tactfully manipulated and interacted with the rail, causing shifts in the narrative perspective of the piece. Staying in constant motion, rolling on the floor, and gliding across the stage the dancers created a compositional conversation with one another and the rail, leaving the audience to ponder if these were two distinct couples, or different reflections of the same pair.

Sophie Visscher-Lubinzki

As season openers go, A Solo in the Spotlight is quite the kicker: a dance show that reveals and revels in the ambivalences of presenting a dance show. It begins with a voiceover pointing out the apparatus of the performance: lights, sound, spotlight, microphone, clothing – and of course the dancer, Vittorio Pagani, who seems split between the controlling presence of his voiceover and the skilled but glitchy presence of his body. In balaclava, underpants and trainers, he executes a steppy sequence to different musical accompaniments, a slave to his own commands. That’s just the start. In a standup section, he slickly but queasily interrogates our desire for entertainment – and his to offer it. Later, he projects audition rejection letters, a glimpse into the usually hidden hinterlands behind the stage. Smart, ironic and dangerously sharp, the piece leaves you wondering: was that a trick, or a treat? Both.

Sunniva Moen Rørvik’s
Red Lick also goes for the double edge, to more rambunctious effect. It’s a series of set pieces that riff on popular music and video imagery, each extravagantly fronted by Rørvik and backed by a team of determinedly impassive dancer-assistants. It opens with a seven-strong phalanx, inscrutable in their shades – until Rørvik whips off trousers and top, exultantly flexing their breasts (cue whoops from the crowd). There’s a fist-punching folk-punk number, a power ballad with Rørvik melodramatically wigged and robed, a pile-up of flailing figures. If Rørvik is on the surface the star, it’s the backup team that bring the work depth, their functional, deadpan presence exposing the machinery of popular culture: at one point, they hold up cue cards (Applaud! Stop! Laugh! Stop! Boo! Stop!) and we happily surrender, amused by our own en masse obedience.

Jayde Edwards’
Mirror mirroR is about a doubled couple, here explored through more familiar dance-and-choreography means. Dancewise, it’s a seamless fusion of the rocksteps, rhythms and precisions of hip-hop with the weight, momentum and tensile flow of contemporary dance. Choreographically, it sets up a moveable clothes rail as a mirror device between two couples. Initially they reflect each other within the frame, but the connections grow increasingly refractive and uncontained as the rail is wheeled about, crossed and spun. Skilfully danced and composed, it nevertheless still feels more like a movement study than a piece in itself.

Sanjoy Roy