Touchwood is The Place’s annual festival that allows both established and emerging artists to share works in progress and gain feedback from a heavily dance savvy audience. These pieces are shown as part of The Place’s Summer House programme. Naturally The Place’s theatre space would not be appropriate for such a small and intimate sharing, instead we are lead to the large wood sprung floored studio.
Aoi Nakamara and Esteban Fourmi start the evening. Nakamara is mystifying in a long black skirt, on top of a box, dismounting it before flailing around the stage, seemingly out of control. The onstage audience (picked before the piece began) cautiously try to control her, an impressive feat as they were only given a few whispered words of direction from Esteban prior to performing. The piece is named KINBAKU having evolved from play with ropes and “anything they found around them”.
Moreno Solinas and Igor Uzelai perform an extract of work in progress, Idiot Syncratic. The piece is initially a little baffling as the pair circle each other closely for several minutes. The programme states they are interested in “repetitive and unexpected” choreography. It is firstly uncomfortable, then quite amusing, then fascinating as we wait eagerly for the unexpected part. The pair has mastered the art of charming the audience as they don’t shy away from eye contact while we wait for another development in the piece. However, seeing the impact that one small change can make such as when one of the pair changes angle or slowly down, moves closer and further apart is certainly a very interesting process that I can imagine making a very engaging piece when performed as a whole.
Probably the best known artists here is Freddie Opoku-Addaie, a previous Place Prize finalist, his piece Show of Hands will be part of the upcoming Dance Umbrella festival in Octoberand is his first time working with director, Graeme Miller. Full of charisma, it is no surprise that Opoku-Addaie can turn the simple process of arranging his props on stage into a performance. Just as the audience believe he is about to begin, he emerges with yet more wooden carvings of hands which are arranging in a straight line. This is all part of his performance of course and these hands serve as a vehicle for many hand puns which he reads from a book; “Can you handle it? Can I lend you a hand? I’ve got to hand it to you.” Etc. I found the piece a little disjointed as he then runs, circling the stage deliberately tripping himself up, however I am sure there is more to come from this work when it is premiered as a whole.
The most exciting and complete work of the night came from Nathan Geering and Jodie Marshall. Geering is hopelessly manipulated by the music of the violin, expertly played by Marshall until it eventually destroys him. It is a story of a love affair, an obsession and finally an addiction. It is a work that draws you in from the very second it starts and the one piece that of the evening that I was sad to see finish, despite the brilliant climax. I look forward to seeing more of them.
First published on OneStopArts.com