Rosie Kay's Fantasia
- Claire Sawers
- 4 November 2019
Birmingham-based dancer and choreographer's new piece is full of passion and urgency
The former Scotland now Birmingham-based dancer and choreographer, Rosie Kay has always been drawn to creating intense physical works, with extreme athleticism powering her complex routines. Fantasia takes a similarly 'zero chill' approach in this hour of baroque dance, where three regular collaborators of Kay's, dancers Shanelle Clemenson, Harriet Ellis and Carina Howard work incredibly hard, never running out of puff.
The frilly, falsetto soundtrack of music by Baroque composers Vivaldi, Bach and Purcell gives flashbacks to the prim opulence of Sally Potter's gorgeous film adaptation of Orlando, with its lavish Elizabethan scenes and camply ridiculous, yet stunning pomp and ceremony. Kay explored Baroque themes earlier this year with 'A Baroque Fantasy' (YDance's commission for twenty female dancers), and Fantasia comes as a three-part follow up, with a focus on the sun, the moon and the earth.
Louis Price's costumes share the shiny, reflective gold stage like a co-star; the dancers begin in black tutus topped with rainbow African fabrics and black sports bras, then amplify every shimmy and ripple of their bodies in silver bodysocks covered in rows of swishing tassels.
After lots of frenzied, virile movement, with muscular vigour and serious faces, it's welcome when there are brief hints of faintly absurd humour, with Clemenson peacocking around wearing a haughty expression. Although Clemenson is also a voguer and whacker, she bends her style beautifully here to the tight, straight-backed technical precision of Fantasia's routines, which draw a lot from classical ballet styles.
Kay was thinking about the Ancient Greeks' notions of beauty and truth when she created Fantasia, as well as John Berger's book, Ways of Seeing, and the ways that dancers emotionally connect with techno music. There's definitely a sense of OTT Greek drama in some of the taut sequences, as well as the defiance of Flamenco dance.
A passionate, urgently danced piece, with lots of beauty to admire amongst the obvious skill and energy.
Reviewed at Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh.