Innovations Dance Platform – The Studio

Produced by Dance Horizons

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Produced by Dance Horizons, Edinburgh, with an initiative to encourage a diverse and fresh root of talent across the UK and further, Innovations finds a home for those who lost out during the Pandemic, welcoming showcases taking their initial steps into the industry – trial ideas and encouraging a safe environment for companies to test concepts. Flourishing since 2014, Innovations, along with creative director Oliver James Anwyl, is designed as an umbrella production to be a home for dance artists to have an initial area of output and access to audiences.

Finding a home within Capital Theatres Studio space by Potterrow, this evening’s Innovation’s finds four pieces performed for eager audiences – homegrown artists from Edinburgh and Glasgow will share the space with companies from Coventry and Italy, and what they may differ in proximity and narrative, they share in a determination and beguiling lustre of movement.

Resilient – Ashley Jordan

Capturing the heart of Innovation’s intentions, Ashley Jordan’s Resilient precisely represents the survival, losses, and struggle both individuals (and the arts community) have endured across the UK in the past two years.

But amidst the despair, Lexy Garner and Ben Morley manage to capture a sincerity in the weight they place behind one another’s movements – particularly in embracement, a reference to the tightness in which we held one another after restrictions were lifted. But they never dilute the struggle, as the pair combine an element of fight and of fury in their determination to continue that sense of working tirelessly to survive.

Impressively, the sentimentality between Garner and Morley transcends typical boundaries, with both performers comforting one another, performing synchronised and mirror movements, stripping back the expectant gendering of a piece performed by a leading man and woman. Jordan’s communication is clear through their choreographed design, one which may benefit from additional still moments to settle the impact between the dancers – and provide an emphasis to the multitude of emotions swirling around them.

Rewind & Replay – Peter Twyman

The mind is a tricky mistress: our most valuable tool and often, our most persistent enemy. Peter Twyman’s Rewind & Replay delves into where the birth of the mind occurs and where an ‘ending’ may occur after a lifetime of trauma, fragmentation, and deviation. Offering but a slice of the turmoil one experiences, the troupe of five dancers Saskia Peace, Rebecca Rowson, Felicity Drever, Jessica Lloyd, Rebecca Hunt, and Twyman initially offer an expansive examination, but for their talents and precision, the chaos generated in communication with the audience begins to unravel a little too finely.

Twyman’s choreography works itself into a frenzy, encapsulating the desired communications of the mind’s fragmentation, but struggles to introduce the conceptual onset, and indeed, the bookend. There’s no doubt about the sweeping unrestrained structure, whipping itself around the intentionally broken and disjointed movements, the dancers trying their best to reclaim a sense of coherency towards the tail end of the piece.

Sehnsucht – Lost Movement Company

Successfully transcribing organised chaos, the inclusion of base improvised movements, tied to the available space, makes for a terrific sense of the unexpected within Christian Consalvo’s dramaturgy, as Lost Movement Company take their eight-strong team and weaves them together to tell a tale of Sehnsucht, the German romanticism of spirit, an addiction to desire.

Descending into the realms of the uncontrollable, there is rarely, if ever, a question of dedication and understanding from the dancers who communicate the evolving (and sometimes combustable) emotive stability of their pairings, as the pangs of nostalgia take hold.

Easily the piece with the most significant terms of outside consideration and structure, in particular the lighting design and original composition from Filippo Ripamonti, Sehnsucht has a sensuality tied directly to the concept, taking pauses within the movement to infuse a sense of eros, of longing, and achieves quite a heated (and enviable) passion between dancers, even without a physical connection – allowing the intended momentum and storytelling to continue, even as the movement halts.

Footprint – Penny Chivas

When did we last speak with the Earth? This is the question Penny Chivas poses in Innovations closing piece Footprint, concerning the impact we have on the planet and how far we’ve come from being able to communicate with the ground we walk on.

Chivas’ piece finds an intricacy in balancing the text with movement, transitioning more into a spoken-word production than strictly an experimental movement piece. Remaining poignant, the physicality of the show is somewhat overshadowed though by Great Snakes AV sound design and Chiva’s writing – which is the real takeaway.

The intention to merge the features of audio, movement and writing works in elements, particularly in the combination of choreography and spoken word towards the end where the distortion of language can be turned around in meaning, emphasising Chivas’ narrative intentions.

Returning in November to The Studio on the 11th and 12th, those who may have missed out on the creative prosperity both Dance Horizons and Innovations offer would be well advised to mark their calendars. What will it be like? Who can tell. But one thing is for certain, that the diverse range of movement and mechanics of storytelling offered is a veritable cauldron of creative ingenuity and a marvellous experience to open new audiences to the grassroots dance companies across the industry.  

For further information relating to Innovations Dance Platform, please visit their website here.

Innovations returns to Capital Theatres’ The Studio in November. Keep an eye out for tickets here.

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