The Dance House, Cardiff Bay
The Berlin-based dance platform Lucky Trimmer, curate tours that blend great skill with lightness and avant-garde with cabaret, with the main mission refreshingly being entertainment. Taking their pick from the cream of international talent, the only three rules to follow are – be original, be bold, and keep it under ten minutes.
Austrian Dagmar Dachauer, is mystified by her nation’s dance tradition. To a Viennese Waltz, she humorously attempts to re-live the old Empire, her modern body trying to assimilate the grace and flow of the spinning dancers of earlier times. Her arms and legs want to go one way, but her head and torso can’t keep up with the frenetic action until by the final hurrah, she just gives up with a deadpan shrug.
The award winning dance Grandma, by Francesca Foscarini is discomforting but sympathetic as we meet the elderly woman, shoulders bowed, shuffling with age, remembering her childhood and vigorous maturity through a series of briefly held spot lit vignettes in different areas of the floor space. She remembers and responds to her own pains and triumphs and looks to the futures of her children and grandchildren. It’s amazing how much can be conveyed through movement alone.
Next we have a film. Moment – Performatives Spazieren by Yukihiro Taguchi is made of stop frame stills showing the trans-Berlin adventures of a number of floor boards. We see them rise up one by one in an upstairs room, escape from the window then slither at pace or cartwheel their way through the city. There are some entertainingly quirky moments such temporarily turning a bus shelter into a box by becoming a fence or creating a pop up picnic centre that dissolves as quickly as it arrived.
Walking on to the sound of Nina Simone singing “I got Life”, Lucia Marote stands central, puts her trigger finger to her mouth and figuratively blows her brains out. Thrown backwards from the audible shot, she lays there dead. Except for one foot, it eventually transpires. The right foot, (El Pie of the title) is an entity of its own that sets about kicking, coaxing and cajoling its counterpart back to animation, in a wonderfully inventive piece that eventually sees all limbs as individual characters violently making their claim on life until Lucia stands once more and opens her eyes.
Something more classically balletic is unfolding in half-light in a rear corner. Entitled Floating Flowers, an ankle length tutu is worn and undulating arm movements gradually become more aggressive. She elegantly bows forward and on reassuming a vertical position, now stands more than eight-feet tall! Once we realise that she sits aloft shoulders and that the dancing legs below her skirt are firstly male, and secondly, not her own, much enjoyment follows. Performed in full seriousness, the excessively tall dancing creature stomps around as an Oriental ghost being seemingly buffeted by the wind. Soon, Yi-Ting Tsai and Guang-Xuan Chen become two separate skirted water lanterns, reflecting the Buddhist remembrances of the dead and invitations to happiness.
Those familiar with David Lynch’s Twin Peaks will know the Log Lady as oracle. Dressed as a lumberjack and cradling his own special log, Samuel Lefeuvre in monoLOG superbly depicts dependency and burden through agonisingly acted compulsion and rejection. It’s surprising how much we grow to share his emotional attribution.
Closing this hugely entertaining show is National Dance Centre Wales’ artistic director Caroline Finn with her now iconic Bernadette. A kitchen table is set with cooking ingredients and Bernadette, as the homely homemaker, is engaged by a cookery show on radio all about making the perfect pie crust. Perfect; it always has to be perfect if you’re a homely homemaker but not all are cut out for this role even if in some quarters and in some ages, it has been the definition of a woman’s role. Quite brilliantly, Bernadette has moments of dramatic failure when her will is stronger than what she is willing herself to be. Anarchy in the shape of smashed eggs, strewn flour and those high heels discarded does not deliver her to happiness and the spectre of the perfect roast turkey looms.
With its bite seized formula, random but easily accessible content and the high level skills of choreographers and performers alike, Lucky Trimmer certainly did do Wales, and with satisfying aplomb too.
(photo credit: Mark Douet)