GOlive Festival 2015

GOlive  Festival 2015

Burton Taylor Studio, Oxford Playhouse

18 July 2015

Susan Kempster My Own Private Movie

Drishti Dance QuickSilver and Silent Melody

Susie Crow Shades of Tisiphone

Marie-Louise Crawley Myrrha

Sue Lewis/Ffin Dance Fascination

We are up close and personal in the Burton Taylor Studio at the Oxford Playhouse. Presenting dance in small space makes fresh demands on performers as well as those of us watching. The proximity of the dancers intensifies the experience. The degree of intimacy is a little unsettling, but we are a friendly crowd and a warm camaraderie fuels goodwill.

Curated by Donald Hutera, GOlive is in its third year. Introducing the programme Hutera is like a kid in a sweet shop and his enthusiasm is infectious. All six works had something new to offer. My Own Private Movie choreographed and performed by Susan Kempster involves some of the audience entering the performance space and engaging in very simple improvisations. Kempster gives us all MP3 players with unique soundtracks. In something akin to my daily commute, my head and my body are in two different places. And perhaps this is Kempster’s point, the delicious contradiction of social media: together and not together, caught between the virtual and the physical but unable to belong wholly to either.

Anuradha Chaturvedi shimmers in QuickSilver. The music ripples through Chaturvedi’s hands and fingers and the sound of her feet snapping at the floor beautifully contrasts the lyricism of her upper body. The blue and gold of Chaturvedi’s dress swirls around her legs as she twists and turns and the undulating curves of her arms are like the wings of birds. Chaturvedi is enchanting. Her eyes twinkle as she dances, bringing to life the nuances in John Thurlow’s musical score.

Inspired by the trio of figures in Picasso paintings, the dancers in Sue Lewis’ piece Fascination eat up the space with ravenous intent. They duck and weave, tumble and expand; bursting forth like the vibrant colours and jutting angles that explode in a Picasso canvas. Lewis plays around with several juicy choreographic ideas, but perhaps too many, as the work loses its way at times. Powerfully danced, it is an exciting and dynamic finale to the evening.

No doubt, Hutera’s curation is eclectic, but GOlive champions the work of dance makers who are rattling the cage of performative norms. I’m left wondering whether Hutera – dance critic for that most traditional broadsheet The Times – is quietly sowing the seeds of a rebellion. Is this the first whispers of a Judson Church-style revolution? Over the last two decades we’ve been riding a wave of elitism in dance. Elitism is not a bad thing, but arguably it has passed its peak and is now narrowing, rather than expanding, the possibilities of the art form. A new era of experimentation in British dance is long overdue and GOlive is emerging as catalyst for change.

GOlive 2015 has toured in London and Oxford and finishes this week at the Chesil Theatre in Winchester on 24th July.

Philippa Newis


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