Still Current – Russell Maliphant Company – May 29th – 31st – Abbey Theatre
To describe this as a dance piece would be to dismiss it with faint praise. There really is so much going on in these five short pieces, so much complexity and thought. The music plays an important role in the overall experience. In some of them, the sound is so loud you can feel the bass in your chest. Some of the dances feature strong drums and other leisurely piano numbers. They are all deeply considered and the dance and music work well together. The varied and eclectic soundtrack is from composers such as Erik Satie, Andy Cowton, Mukul and Armand Amar.
The lighting is quite spectacular, it is almost an additional member on stage with the performers. Light is used to create spaces for the dancers to interact with, to vault between or to be trapped within, to pull and drag. It is not so much lighting, as it is visual projections onto the floor of the space, which adapts to the dancers movements. A strong spot light from above is used in some sequences to blur the movement of the dancers flailing limbs, to dramatic effect. The collaboration between Maliphant and innovative lighting designer Michael Hulls has lasted more than 17 years.
The opening piece features a dancer moving in a relatively small square at the centre of the stage. This square is made up of lines of light, which move at varying speed to give a strobe like effect, and makes the motion of the dancer look even more impressive. The lone male dancer is later joined by a female counterpart for the final sequences. All the while, drums and percussion of all forms are played through the sound system. The other pieces feature three dancers moving with canes, a dancer moving over a projection of water, two dancers moving in a variety of altering landscapes, to name but a few.
The dancers themselves are near perfect specimens, and make their breathtaking movements look effortless. The movements draw from contemporary dance, ballet and martial arts, so it has quite diverse origins. The attention to minute detail move this above the run of the mill dance performances. There is much consideration of the visual imagery, and there are some quite beautiful sequences within. At its best moments, this piece will give you goosebumps!
Duration: 95 minutes including interval.
Still Current runs at the Abbey Theatre until May 31st. Details can be found here.