Unfortunately, T-Dance [★★☆☆☆], another production presented by The Place at Summerhall this year, seems to lack the self-awareness of Lost Dog’s work. Indeed, the piece appears to fall into the very creative traps examined by Duke; the final product does not live up to the conception. It is a disappointment.
The dance explores touch and connectivity. It is a theme that dance should be ideally suited to – a study of tactility seems to call for bodies to be used as instruments. The idea of connection over distance is a notion that in the globalised, digital age is increasingly significant, and, in the hands of Vera Tussing – graduate of London Contemporary Dance School, choreographer throughout Europe and artist highly interested in the structure and performance of the senses – one would have high expectations the idea would be treated with fresh insight. Yet, what is felt most is a sense of the unfulfilled.
There are some visually striking episodes. The quartet open with sticks between their shoulders, moving gradually across the space. They pivot around each other alternately, carefully spinning while not letting the sticks fall. Later the stage will fall to darkness, aside form a single strip of light above the dancers heads and the sticks will be whirled, causing the sound of wind to rise and the light bar to be chopped and distorted by hidden batons.
However, despite these striking conceits and the often beautiful motion of the dancers, the piece feels disjointed. Each episode, worked out through improvisation, drags on for too long. The gentle study is too gentle, too slow. The powerful soundtrack, which includes David Bowie and Jeff Buckley, seems to overshadow the movements on stage. The whole piece is too much like a glimpse into a rehearsal room, where the quartet are playing bonding games. In a piece about connectivity, the audience instead feel distanced.
However, while being flawed, even T–Dance proves that dance theatre is certainly the realm for artistic experimentation. That The Place has presented such different pieces – pieces that are far from orthodox in their use of movement – proves that the contemporary dance world is taking risks. In Paradise Lost these risks pay off extraordinarily.