Inventions – Dublin Dance Festival – Review

Inventions – Dublin Dance Festival – Review by Frank L.

Inventions produced by Irish Modern Dance Theatre

Dates – 16—17 May 2019

John Scott choreographed this piece for the Kilkenny Arts Festival 2018 with music by Tom Lane. There is a cast of five which is diverse both in physical shape, ethnicity and age.

There is no scenery, just an empty stage with lights at three levels on the back wall. There is a table off centre with a couple of chairs. Along each side wall there is a row of chairs. At the start of the performance, the five dancers are mingled with audience members on these chairs. There is therefore an unusual bringing together of the audience and the dancers before the action begins. Valda Setterfield starts the performance by standing up and moving with a gentle rhythm on to the edge of the stage. She is then almost cruised by young Kevin Coquelard, whose hips have a life of their own as he dances around her and gradually, the three other performers (Ashley Chen, Oona Doherty and Mufutau Yusuf) join the flow. Each dances distinctively but with an uncertain common purpose as the action moves across the stage. Oona Doherty then in an entirely different idiom breaks away into a frenetic solo distraction. Two entirely different scenarios are briefly in motion. So the action rolls forwards in a mixture of duets and group pieces interspersed with intimate moments where the hands are the critical ingredient. It is constantly evolving and it is hard to keep up with the variety of movement.

The two chairs are occupied from time to time by the dancers, primarily Setterfield who reads from a transcript. The control she has of her voice complements that of her body. She reads with a precision which is in stark contrast to the exuberance of movement which is taking place around her on the dance floor. Chen and Yusuf are men of some scale and when either of them moves rapidly a great sense of power is released, meanwhile Setterfield’s voice continues on its certain and steady course.

The music by Tom Lane used piano and synth sounds, with layered electronic noises at a variety of tempos and intensities. There were brief moments of lounge music which created a more playful air. By the end of the sixty minute performance, as an audience member an exhilarating journey has been experienced. Those members of the audience sitting on the stage would have had an even more intense experience being in close proximity to the action. The dancers each with their own gifts, guided by Scott, created a mesmerizing world.

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