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Divya Ravi Abandhana
Marta Guerra Doblas (dobladanza)Manifiesta
Matthew Howard Poem of Rua

The first piece of the evening, Poem of Rua by Matthew Howard is a striking work where movement, fashion, sound, and projection come together. Performers Donna Kim and Fan Jiayi successfully embody a fluid movement aesthetic that moves between contemporary and Eastern dance styles. However, the performance feels a bit tantalizing as the visually synergetic allure of Howard’s creative vision is something I’m left wanting to see further developed. Careful consideration of subtle details such as the unconcealed hands of the performers will certainly elevate this already strong and transfixing work of art.

by Divya Ravi was the highlight of the evening. One of the signs of a strong performance is its ability to transport an audience to another world and Ravi has done just that. While there is still space for further crafting regarding duration and structure, there is a strength to this work that emits from Ravi’s presence, her rhythmic footwork, the intracity of gesture and shape with her arms, and above all her captivating gaze. Complemented by Ali Hunter’s thoughtful lighting design and live accompaniment with Sharan Subramanian (vocals), Prathap Ramachandra (rhythms & multi-percussions), and Liz Hanks (cello) this is certainly a work that I look forward to seeing in full production.

The final piece of the evening was Manifiesta by Marta Guerra Doblas (Dobladanza), a piece that felt frenzied and excessive. Doblas certainly has something to say but Manifiesta feels a bit disjointed as it throws the kitchen sink at issues which are poignant and expressively distressing. Yet, there is a joyfulness and vibrancy in the inclusivity of Dobladanza that is to be nurtured. With further guidance, as they hone their craft, Dobladanza can have greater resonance regarding the insightful and thought-provoking claims they are working to make.

Keith Alexander

Poem of Rua by Matthew Howard is a multidisciplinary work that highlights the pros and cons of such a category. At times you feel like you're getting a lot of nothing, at others, very little of something. He uses movement, music, costume and interactive projections to create a world that feels continual but also background in nature. Nothing overly pulling focus, but neither slowing enough to make one fully disengage. In moments of frustration I craved more, but then
considered perhaps that's the point; a study in subtlety. Though the headgear would disagree, serving tassled lampshade realness. The projections were arresting, communicating meteorological environments, and the movement had a contemporary dance Tai chi feel, but needs developing in order to leave any kind of lasting impression. That said, the work left me wondering…and that’s never a bad thing.

by Divya Ravi is a mature work that confirms Ravi's presence as a performer. The fact she's joined by two musicians and one singer of a similar calibre only adds to the sophistication of the piece. Ravi as a dancer is articulate and expressive, and communicates a potent juxtaposition of determination and fear through her movement. Yet the work occasionally felt too narratively literal, and could also benefit from further editing, but the atmosphere created is undeniable, likewise the level of skill and experience.

It doesn't take a lot to make me happy, and sequins + movement + a regular beat absolutely do. Manifiesta by Marta Guerra Doblas is trying to do many things, and some are accomplished more successfully than others. The choreography has strong points; simplicity, repetition and unison, but often the execution felt too loose and the phrasing on the immature side. The cast spoke and shared intimate insights into the reality of being a recent dance degree graduate, and having been one myself I can empathise. However, I don't think the current outcome is perhaps what they were hoping for, as in the moment it felt more awkward than
cathartic, yet still offered the odd genuine laugh.

Matthew Paluch