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Maya TakedaFind your Lines

Lulu WangLOVE

Marie Chabert, Danny Kearns and Thomas BrodaHEADin for godot

Maya Takeda wriggles, twitches and gasps inside a black bin bag during tonight’s opening piece: Find Your Lines. It is a long time before Takeda finally tears free and begins dancing, but her physical tension, precision and control prove that the wait is worth it. Somehow both angular and disjointed, whilst also smooth and fluid, she has an intriguing quality like that of a prowling, startled cat – especially when playing with a piece of red string. As she takes her closing bow, Takeda gestures for the audience to also clap for her bag; a tongue in cheek acknowledgement of the essential role props play in her choreography. A captivating performance, Takeda’s own artistic power justifies its slower start.

Things get decidedly more absurd with HEADin for Godot; Marie Chabert, Danny Kearns and Thomas Broda’s ambitious interpretation of Samuel Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’. An atmosphere which can only be described as hazy – thanks to copious amounts of dry ice, eerie, live electronic music, and the blank stares and staggering movements of Chabert and Kearns – makes you question if you’ve accidentally wondered into a dive bar after hours rather than The Place. The impressive confidence of Chabert and Kearns’s contact improvisation is unlikely to have been achieved whilst inebriated, however. Shifting from frenetic turns and throws to feeble writhing and jerking around, the movement – and aural accompaniment – is at once both exciting and poignant, if at times perhaps overambitious given time constraints.

Lulu Wang slows things down for tonight’s closing piece: Love. As two dancers carve beautiful shapes through, behind and with each other, an immediate connection is formed. Their bond remains unbroken, as they perform a tug of war in sustained, deep lunges and plies, and later pace around another duo, refusing to break eye contact. It is when both duos join forces as a quartet in the centre, weaving and arching in and around each other, that the piece feels most powerful. It is a subtle power – a slow crescendo rather than a sudden bang – but the piece is more impressive for it.

Melina Block

You wouldn’t necessarily associate the string game Cat’s cradle - an old favourite in school playgrounds - with dance, but Maya Takeda uses it as an inspiration for her solo Find Your Lines. Laying out the string on a long diagonal she follows its trajectory purposefully. In another moment she weaves the string in complex, interconnected patterns around her fingers then embodies the shapes she’s created in a series of sinuous, knotty postures. The intense relationship Takeda conveys between her body and the thread is quite remarkable to witness. Her precise, focussed execution of material is complimented by Ryuichi Sakamoto's music, making this a gift of a solo despite its slow start.

Floundering, stumbling, collapsing and colliding - Marie Chabert and Danny Kearns enter the space as two lost souls. They blink bemused at the confusing scene around them and spend the rest of the performance moving in loose-limbed, chaotic sequences of physical theatre and contact improvisation trying to understand where they are. HEAD'in for Godot, a nod to Samuel Beckett’s masterpiece, dips into absurdism through beautifully released, goofy choreography and vibey live music by Thomas Broda. All of which convey feelings of existential body detachment and isolation. Chabert is the one who finally grounds them, reaching out to the staggering Kearns with a reassuring tenderness. An ambitious work for the alloted time, it continues a tad too long but delivers a heady punch.

Lulu Wang
investigates love through Chinese mythology and a game of tug and war. Wang and Josh Woolford appear as a dignified pair of elders, elegantly dressed in what could be Issey Miyake sculpted, pleated designs. Their duet comprises of exquisitely soft hand gestures, progressing into larger rhizomatic forms created by intertwining limbs and torsos. Breaking away to play a game of tug or war with a long rope seems a little abrupt but still continues the theme of attachment. A second couple, Joshua Faleatua and Freja Jenkin explore their connection in a rather different series of pushing and pulling actions. They seem like two kids gambling around in contrast to the demure and sophisticated Wang/Woolford relationship. I’m a bit lost towards the end as the couples circle around each other with hostility before making peace but enjoy the meditative performances and cool setting.

Josephine Leask