WMC, Cardiff

Wed 4 May


There’s a certain evocative appeal to Lewis Carroll’s two Alice books, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass. Simultaneously nostalgic to a bygone culture and to our own childhoods, the texts capture worlds which are distant yet tangible – just like the worlds within our own dreams. Charmingly archaic in their Victorian contents yet embroidered with fitting neologisms, strangely logical portmanteaux and unexpected truism, the novels take us to unexpected places accompanied by the comfort of the familiar. If wonder is an active state and dreaming is passive, it is Lewis Carroll’s writing that bridges the boundaries, so it is not the characters we remember so much as the way in which they are brought to life in black on white. Continue reading “ALICE | DANCE REVIEW”

The Factory | Dance Review

Nov 25 2010 Amelia Forsbrook, WalesOnline
Oh to have lived in a world where we only strove for beauty. A glorious globe where we never cared for criticism and avoided the advice of our elders, throwing it all away alongside yesterday’s lovers and the unwanted polaroids of last week’s most glamorous models and muses.

In The Factory, Earthfall have truly captured the mood of disposable excitement and recklessness within Andy Warhol’s NYC ‘Silver Factory’. Peering into this world sculpted out of free-love and amphetamines and wrapped in silver foil and paint, we witness a creative and dynamic way of living where reputations are built on artistic excess.

Yet this is also a world with its limitations. Rebellion against convention can only go so far before it becomes expected, and the dancing here certainly fails to sustain this inventive mood and instead merely reiterates a tired statement made many decades ago. So, as a dance spins around stage while discharging a fire extinguisher, what once promised to become innovative merely melts into a dull rebellion and a tiresome attitude to danger and constantly challenging creativity.

Another problem comes with the work’s representation of free-love. The erotic sinks into the mundane as dancers move in a fitful wave of lumped sexuality, strutting from one side to another in an oxymoronically coordinated freedom. True, this piece is sexy with its gorgeous dancers and suggestive choreography, but it’s also sexless as partners are easily swappable and even easier to forget. Failing to make the transition from conservative relationships to the ‘zipless’, the dancers find themselves bound in an awkward kind of middle-ground, where everything seems to be suggested but nothing much is felt.

The Factory is perhaps saved by its awareness of the fickle nature of beauty and the inevitable fact that shocking statements will always wear thin. Hence, perhaps tediousness is not a criticism we can make of Earthfall’s show, but rather a comment they are making about the era they depict. Chatting into a telephone, Beth Powlesland’s Edie Sedgwick observes that, ‘Everyone was acting so enchanted last year. So beautiful.’ Here, the company exhibits a subtle awareness that even the most revolutionary of cultural movements have their sell-by dates.

However, whatever statements they attempt to make, Earthfall are ultimately trapped within their own beauty. As the beautifully androgynous Rosalind Brooks lifts her shirt in order to echo the iconic picture of Warhol’s scars, her slight frame refuses to let biography and choreography collide. Indeed, this is largely the mood of the whole show. Lacking any sense of long-standing meaning, depth or narrative, this work is perhaps more suited to installation than production and, with its self-conscious repetition and elongated showiness, this is certainly an odd way to honour a man who made the condensed iconic.

Traces | Theatre Preview

Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay

Mon 15-Wed 17 Mar

Was that last adaptation of Romeo and Juliet you went to see too soppy? Is it true that Les Misérables was just too musical for your tastes? Did you walk out of Waiting for Godot before the interval because you were too impatient to join Vladimir and Esragon? If you answered ‘Yes’ to any of those questions it is clear you are the kind of theatre-goer who literally needs your performers to jump through hoops to captivate you.

Fortunately, if this is the case, there is a production catered specifically for the likes of you. Traces is cirque with a difference, a breathtaking exploration of the limits of human movement and acrobatics balanced with entertaining anecdotes and a soundtrack that, for all its merits and diversity, could be taken straight out of Huw Stephens’ playlist.

The production, from Montreal-based company 7 Fingers, sees five characters take refuge in a building resembling a deserted factory, anticipating an unspecified disaster. The resulting mentality is something that epitomizes the carpe diem philosophy; here, the name Traces functions as a powerful reminder of our mortality and triggers a drive to leave an impression through whatever talent possible. Indeed, through their extreme energy and incorporation of skills as diverse as illustration, piano-playing, basketball and street dancing, 7 Fingers present the view that only through creation can we counter whatever malignant forces lurk outside.

It is the contrast between a fragile, existential recognition of mortality with an awe-inspiring display of super-human strength and ability that makes this circus act so superior to red painted smiles and a tame lion.