Company Concentric return to Resolution 2020 with their captivating new work, Remainder, which looks at the ties between people across geographic and cultural borders.
Company Concentric return to Resolution festival for the third time with Remainder, a work choreographed by Shivaangee Agrawal and Yanaëlle Thiran. They are joined on stage by musician Mikaela Livadiotis and a fourth performer, of sorts: a thin, white sheet of cloth. At times coveted and contested, at others cast aside, the cloth emerges as a suitable metaphor for that which can unite or, indeed, divide us. Its representational capabilities are cleverly evoked by the performers as they manipulate the cloth into various disparate forms. Scrunched up into a ball the material appears insignificant, its powers over the dancers minimised and trivialised. Moments later, when it is stretched wide across the stage, wrenched and wrangled by the dancers who pull it at either end, the cloth’s command over the performers is unmistakable. This action is set against a dominating sculptural feature: a second swath of cloth which hangs twisted and suspended in the background, presiding over the performers. This architectural flourish is remarkable and elegantly emphasises the centrality of the metaphoric cloth.
The accompanying soundtrack is rooted in dissonance, but flirts with tonality – fleeting moments of earnest lyricism, evocative of classical French impressionism, help to convey the fraught yet simultaneously hopeful relationship between the dancers and the cloth. But what happens when the transforming cloth disappears? What, to borrow from the piece’s title, will remain?
Livadiotis’ masterful command of the piano communicates the chaos and frenzy caused by the cloth’s absence. Summoning the piano’s capability for menace, Livadiotis makes use of the lowest timbral register, frenzied polyrhythms and extreme dynamic and textural juxtapositions, to convey the tension thrown up by the cloth’s absence.
As the cloth is invited back, the dancers once again become captivated by its presence. Drawing from a richly varied choreographic language infused with floorwork and Bharatanatyam, the dancers’ movement is as striking as its sonic accompaniment. Their individual interaction with the cloth is fluid and spontaneous. Wide, yawning bends and stretches that travel from the floor to the air are informed by the ripples and undulations of the fabric as it is tossed and turned. This fluidity is disrupted by more forceful movements where extended limbs yank and pull at the cloth to create palpable tension. This seemingly improvised movement, however, lacks cohesion and, while the dancers’ contrasting styles and techniques are striking, it can also be jarring.
Nevertheless, the soundtrack is inflected with various secondary instruments. Having demonstrated her pianistic skill and the scope of her instrument to traverse fragility and frenzy, we can question whether Livadiotis’ score could better exist entirely on piano or whether these secondary instruments bring another incongruous element into the mix.
We are told that the cloth alludes to ‘what ties people together across borders and cultures’, yet as the lights fade and the ripples in the cloth settle to stillness, this concept never quite crystallises. Whilst the performers animate the cloth and begin to imbue it with symbolic power, it is hard to unite all the various choreographic and musical elements convincingly behind this idea. With some refinement, the piece could elaborate on this theme and subtly communicate the importance to find that which connects us and, while it may elude us, never to let it go. A timely message indeed.
Company Concetric performed Remainder at The Place on 28 January as part of Resolution 2020 Festival. For more information about Company Concentric or any of the performers, click the links above.
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