Pheonix Dance Theatre
Phoenix Dance Theatre is a dance company founded in 1981 by three male dancers. Particle Velocity is the company’s 2013 tour, and consists of four pieces of choreography from both established and emerging artists.
Richard Alston choreographed All Alight for Phoenix. It is a piece for seven dancers set to a score of Revel’s Sonata for Violin and Cello backed by a simply lit blue screen. The dance explores the idea of carving space; the motion seems to cut through air in a living, breathing and ‘alight’ way. Alston’s contrasts of slow and sustained movements with quicker joyous sections are visually interesting. The emotions of the piece vary and Alston creates different feelings that fun to interpret.
After a short interval we are thrown into the narrative journey of Ki. Jose Agudo’s dance follows a narrative journey that portrays the life of Genghis Khan. For me this highly physical and masculine solo was the most awe-inspiring piece. Beginning with a spot lit figure offset from center stage, the dance seems ritualistic and is a growing and evolving piece. I felt like I was being taken on a journey of self-discovery, self-control and self-knowledge. The lighting and costume were simple but strong and complimentary to the concept, enhancing the masculine physicality of Josh Wille’s stunning and spellbinding performance.
Douglas Thorpe’s duet Tender Crazy Love portrays a passion that evolves with a couple’s love, and hate. Light, props, and costume are used to intensify the moods created within the work, a red spot lights deepens passion, and rose petals fall from the ceiling in a clichéd yet beautiful rain. Thorpe’s work is aggressive and violent with some beautifully humorous moments.
Artistic director Sharon Watson describes Repetition of Change as ‘one of the company’s most ambitious works to date’. Her choreography uses the entire company in a response to a commissioned piece of music. The visual elements of this piece were very striking with a large cloth structure being used both as costume and backdrop at separate points and projections of moving images behind the dancers created an otherworldly atmosphere.
Particle Velocity is beautifully sculptured, topping and tailing two smaller pieces with work by an established choreographer and an innovate piece worked fantastically. The audience was truly drawn in to every section. The dancers were amazing, creating clean and clear lines infused with emotion, and using musicality and artistic interpretation with true focus and mastery. The company’s next tour, Watson says, will explore their diversity further; which she feels is integral Phoenix Dance’s direction. To watch dance as a dancer I feel like I already have too much love invested to review accurately. So to counteract this, I decided to bring my boyfriend who has no interest in dance whatsoever. Phoenix Dance, you have managed to convert a non-believer! Not only did he enjoy the show but I also managed to have an actual conversation with him about dance! (Insert handclaps and general rapture, here).