• Oct 09,2013
  • In Review
  • By Abundant Art

Russell Maliphant’s Still Current

Still Current showcases solos, duets and trios choreographed by Russell Maliphant. Maliphant has earned international fame from working with renowned dance companies and artists and has bagged a series of awards including an Olivier Award for ‘PUSH’ with Sylvie Guillem. A Sadler’s Wells associate artist, Maliphant brings to his audience a smart and slick presentation accompanied by exquisite and clever lighting and projection by Michael Hulls and animation by Jan Urbanowski.

Five innovative pieces set out to wow the audience at Arts Depot in North London. Every piece has a demarcated zone rendered by ingenious use of spot lights which zoom in and out to make the space bigger or smaller in the choreographies. This lighted zone would also glide around the stage or switch in and out of different zones. It would sometimes keep the dancers confined within its bounds or would swish them along the stage virtually like a magic carpet. Movements in each piece are vibrant, modern and exhibits perfect technique. Tremendous energy from the dancers draw in the audience. Focussing on the floor patterns that change shape and design and add a new dimension with almost every change in the music note, shifts the mind into a trance like state. Whether in or out of sync, there is a consistent but unpredictable music and light play creating a magic sub layer to Still Current. Music composers Armand Amar, Andy Cowton, Mukul and Erik Satie have brought in their best to give the performance a boost.

Agile dancers moving sharp under the light, create blurred imagery in the mind’s eye making the experience ethereal. It would either seem that the dancers are still and an atomic movement is whizzing around them to produce a blurry, hazy image. Or you would say to yourself, ‘hang on a minute!’….it’s fast movement that’s blurring the vision between one point to the other in the transitional phase of an arm or a limb, creating a montage of images.

To Maliphant  who has always been interested in sculpture, light is an important tool as he uses light to sculpt the dancers bodies. He has a set lighting pattern and then tries movements that fit in the frame to yield extraordinary results. The lighting and projection designer has worked extensively with Maliphant and their collaborations have won them international acclaim and numerous awards. It is evident from Still Current, that in the course of their long collaborative journey, the pair have developed an instinctive understanding of each other’s creative minds.

The opening piece ‘Traces’ is based on the Brazilian martial art of capoeira. It is performed  by the trio of male dancers – Maliphant, Thomasin Gulgec and Dickson Mbi. The piece features the use of long sticks which comes across as a sign of authority and power and a source for acrobatics on stage – But as the piece progresses more layers  are added on. Movements blur when the sticks are swished around with force. With this first piece Maliphant establishes the theme, which deepens as the evening moves forward.

All the four dancers of the evening including Maliphant himself added different levels and forms of physical nuances. Dickson Mbi comes from a background of popping and boogaloo and later trained at the London Contemporary Dance School, Thomasin Gulgec and Carys Staton are both trained at Swindon Dance and Rambert School. Gulgec has worked with renowned choreographers in varied dance styles such as Akram Khan and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. Staton has performed works by Mark Baldwin and Kerry Nicholls.

Maliphant’s focus has been on choreography for the last 10 years and he had discontinued performance during this period. On Sylvie Guillem’s request, Maliphant choreographed a piece for the two of them which brought him back to stage. The result was ‘PUSH’ followed by an Olivier award for this outstanding piece. He continues to perform and in Still/Current he shares his role with Adam Kirkham from the Balletboyz. Techniques from these different dance backgrounds merge in Maliphant’s work to produce dynamic results.

In Still Current Maliphant’s ideas about light and movement come together with his ensembles virtuoso performance skills. The effect is an enchanting melange of movement and light.

                                                                                                                            Protima Chatterjee

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