Déda Blogger Louise came along to see graduate performance company JV2 - a triple bill of brand new work by Jasmin Vardimon, David Lloyd, Paul Blackman and Christine Gouzelis.
Jasmin Vardimon Company has formed ‘JV2’, a one year further education certificate lead by Tim Casson. The 11 international dancers performed ‘A Triple Bill’ at Deda at the end of March 2014.
The performance was divided into three sections, an eclectic mix but each having their own theme.
Firstly ‘Vohlfs: The Life of the pack and the hierarchy within.' This was a dark scene, possibly set in a forest, with wild creatures making guttural sounds to create the atmosphere. It began with a figure lost in the wilderness and circled by predatory wolves. As the creatures attacked, red rags were hurled into the air, creating the disturbing effect of shredded flesh. As one of the wolves established herself as 'top dog', the remaining dancers swayed and twirled from one side of the stage to the other in unison, following her. They were dressed in rags and the leader had wool round around her neck. Whether this was some sort of tribal dress or the flesh of the lost figure, it clearly signified leadership, as it was reluctantly submitted to another of the wolves halfway through the piece after a savage fight.
What stood out for me was the way the 11 girls used their hair, flowing freely, to shake around and create beautiful patterns, they also used their hands to depict ears, crowns or tribal paraphernalia.
One scene began with all 11 girls performing head stands of various forms, demonstrating their strength. Rock music accompanied the dancers with the aptly chosen ‘I wanna be your dog’ by Iggy Pop amongst other tracks. What made the performance deeply powerful and unnerving were the chilling expressions on the girls faces, intimidating and almost zombie like. The dark stage with the stark spotlights, casting eerie shadows worked well to set the scene. Corridors of light were created, like pathways through a dark deep forest.
I was left feeling quite haunted and chilled by this scene but impressed with the acrobatic performance of rolls, jumps and synchronised dancing.
The next chapter ‘Purgatory: Nothing 2 Say’ One woman’s journey through purgatory. Just as I thought it couldn't get any scarier, this scene proved even more disturbing than the last. It began with a girl in red lying facedown on the floor, and music blaring out ‘Get drunk and stay the night’. A girl wearing a black dress with an inverted white cross on it stands over her. She shines a torch in her face and holds a microphone out to hear her scared fast breathing. It becomes clear that a group of girls were at a party and the girl in red has taken excess too far. She is now in Purgatory, being judged and then led away by the devil. The dancers used story boards with a few well chosen words to describe the scene. Clever use of the microphone to emphasise breathing and a rapid heartbeat built up an atmosphere of terror.
The dancers gave a seductive performance, to ‘I put a spell on you,’ with red lights glaring to try and district from the horror of what was about to happen. The dancers used string, pulling and twisting the limbs of their partners like marionettes, which was intriguing and clever. The dancers then moved in a more sinister slow motion. Deathly silence closed the scene.
Thank goodness Chapter 3 was lighter, pleasant, charming and refreshing after such a dark performance. It began with a dancer dressed in white with a blood stain on her front, who later changed to grey to match the rest of the cast. I was confused whether it was a follow on to heaven or a separate piece but she seemed to be lost, upset and frustrated, pulling apart at bundles of feathers. The other 10 dancers were then churning the thousands of white feathers up like a whirlwind, creating a snow globe effect. They made whooshing sounds like gusting wind and danced beautifully among the twirling feathers, rolling, spinning and jumping, keeping the feathers alive. There were scenes of girls hanging over the edge, clocks chiming and a girl lay dying on the floor but not a clear story line, so I chose to enjoy the atmosphere and hypnotic movements, recovering from the previous sinister scenes.
I enjoyed the intimate setting of Deda’s theatre, which draws the audience in, evoking strong emotions. I love watching any form of dance but this was a particularly interesting and intriguing piece. The girls' expressive faces really added to the performance and it was clear that they were theatrically trained as well as dancers.
During the after show talk, the dancers explained what they had gained from the course and from performing this piece. I wish them luck in their individual journeys.