I am such a habitué of contemporary dance that this was actually my second visit to The Place this century. I honestly don’t know why I don’t go more often: the quality is consistently high, the prices unspeakably affordable and the house wine ridiculously lovely. Tonight was a triple bill, part of The Place’s annual Resolution! season that gives an opportunity to the up & going – and it was another excellent evening in Euston.
First up was a solo piece by Marco D’Agostin – Viola – in which he, for want of a better word, explored the conflict between the primal and the polite. Not quite Jekyll & Hyde we instead started from almost nudity and struggles to understand before getting dressed and a bit calmer – that didn’t last though and Marco was last seen stumbling backwards into darkness – all but naked again and back to confusion. The piece built nicely and even though it was a lone piece D’Agostin commanded the stage impressively.
The second work – Chairs by Sarah Lewis and Steve Johnstone – was my personal favourite. A couple preparing for guest – arranging chairs, arranging each other, fidgeting, dancing awkwardly to Bowie, tidying, readying – it was fun and quirky. Most of the time there was no musical or sound accompaniment which allowed the dance to speak for itself. The final tableau of the two seated in party hats – glum – was a neat way of ending.
The final piece was Life After by Uchenna Dance Company and it could have done with the confidence to allow the dance to speak for itself. The group performances and choreography were excellent and worked well with the rhythms of the music. But the spoken word intro and extro jarred a little and didn’t really add to the whole.
This was a well balanced evening and the only sadness was that the theatre wasn’t particularly full. It is also sad that it seems that dance can only really be accessed by the paying public now. I’m struggling to remember when I last saw contemporary dance on the BBC. It’s exactly the sort of thing BBC Four should be showing – not as a one off in some made-up season but regularly as part of its remit – and as tonight has shown there is good work out there and more people should see it.