Review: Cloud Dance Festival:Hush

In a week where leading lights in the arts are calling for mercy on proposed budget cuts, it’s encouraging to see an event that stands on its own two feet.

Hush from Cloud Dance Festival took over Holborn’s Cochrane theatre this weekend. The show aims to give traditional non-dance audiences the chance to sample a range of both new and established performers.

Friday’s contemporary showcase promised a varied choice, from Liverpool’s Taciturn to American choreographer Melody Squire, from the BBC’s So You Think You Can Dance.

Opening the show are Antique Dances with Ternion. Translating as ‘set of three’, the piece begins with a trio of dancers silhouetted against stark blue lighting, a neat trick that delays the identification of two girls and one boy.

Their crouching, animal-like movements give way to a compelling solo from the excellent Brett Murray. As the dance jumps between solo, duet and trio, the timing is not always perfect although it is an exciting start to the night and shows great potential.

Next up is Sillander & Pascual’s look at the journey towards happiness If Pains Must Come, Let Them Extend To Few.

Snippets of humour like the dancer’s chicken impressions certainly raise a smile. The mix of moves sometimes appears a little disjointed but the personality and character of the piece shine through.

Festival veterans Taciturn provide an engaging triple bill, introducing each number compere-style at the onstage microphone stand. The four dancers work closely to create fluid shapes and it’s clear they are one of the more established acts on show.

Their on-stage movements are bouncy and tight. Each girl seemingly advances the other, creating a unity that elevates their work. All three pieces are short and slick, with clever use of pauses and shrewd comic timing.

Ebullition from Melody Squire’s Sol Dans follows. Inspired by Greek mythology and architecture, the piece has a contemporary jazz and ballet feel.

The mix of the multiple performers’ abilities is occasionally highlighted through some of the lifts. However, the uniform outfits help create a scene of togetherness that is clever in parts.

Pair Dance’s exploration of the madness of commuter chaos RUSH is an epic, maniacally intense story that builds and builds.

The unrelenting beat of the music conjures the monotony of the daily commute, with the closeness of the dancers’ motion suitably claustrophobic.

While there is little release from the intensity, the quality of some of the partner work in the middle of the piece is excellent.

Dual by Anima Dance Company is a mixture of contemporary dance, theatre and improvisation that skilfully conveys a relationship strained by everyday annoyances.

Performers Magdalena Radlowska and Pawel Kuzma cleverly move in a way where they are rarely far apart but never quite connect. The jerky, uncomfortable shapes split the fleeting moments of togetherness.

Slanjayvah Danza finish up with Crazy Joanna, a specially adapted dance-only version from their original dance and film integrated work.

The traditional Tango and Flamenco beginning gives way to some brutal contemporary moves, playing out the hard-hitting story of domestic violence.

The way the dancers throw each other around the beautifully soft, red, sunset-lit stage creates an intentionally unsettling scene.

Cloud Dance Festival rightly prides itself on providing a variety of quality performers while remaining self-sufficient. Festival director Chantal Guevara says further funding is required to expand, but without it future festivals may be in doubt.

Friday’s offerings supplied an interesting mix of style, content and quality. Some dancers stood out more than others although the general quality was good.

Most works left you excited about how they could develop in the future and it’s intriguing to see talent in various stages of realisation.

It will be interesting to see what happens in years to come as the performers blossom and continue to push the boundaries of contemporary dance.

One thing all of the acts had in common was the wealth of potential on show. It will be a shame if this does prove to be the last Cloud Dance Festival for a while, as that potential will have one less stage to grow on.

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