Jer Reid and Solène Weinachter: Around Titles - Glasgow Open Dance School at the Market Gallery, Sun 9 Feb 2014 (5 stars)

Jer Reid and Solène Weinachter: Around Titles - Glasgow Open Dance School at the Market Gallery, Sun 9 Feb 2014

Photo: Elaine Dempsey

The guitarist and the dancer form a very special improvised creative partnership

A six-week project offering free movement workshops and dance performances in a gallery space in Glasgow’s East End, the Glasgow Open Dance School is an inspiring example of the city’s DIY culture: democratic, not for profit, community-oriented, creatively nurturing. It’s an ethos perfectly embodied by this Sunday afternoon collaboration between Jer Reid and Solène Weinachter. The former, a guitarist adept at both concise, idiosyncratic leftfield rock (with Dawson and Sumshapes) and exploratory improvisation; the latter, a dancer of considerable international renown.  
In a small, incense-permeated performance space, the audience (including a number of children) sits on rugs around the edges, their shoes left at the door. It’s an extremely welcoming and intimate environment, a gathering of friends that’s open to all. Wielding a semi-acoustic guitar, surrounded by an array of pedals and a well-travelled amp, Reid explains that the audience will guide the improvisation by picking titles from a bag: ‘Some direct, some poetic’. 
Three titles emerge: ‘The Sound of Your Footsteps is Beautiful, Sir’, ‘Soul Erosion of Consumerism’ and ‘Loud Waters’. The first finds Reid weaving together subtle chimes, coaxing out an entrancing, oblique rhythm, against which Weinachter builds from awkward jerks to a kind of frenetic but lyrical martial-arts kata, punctuated by startling exclamations. The second piece is darker, angrier, based on ominous vocal choral effects, doomy sludge and capitalist-critique samples. Weinachter is contorted, agonised, dragging her head across the floor, wearily and reluctantly feigning showbiz clichés, repeatedly slamming into a wall until she’s unable to go on. Some relative peace is achieved with the final segment, her movements sublimely liquid as Reid evokes the sound of waves upon the shore. 
Reid is a fantastically gifted player, which gives him the confidence to be an admirably restrained, non-showy and generous improviser, while Weinachter displays both astounding explosive strength and extremely deft control and fluidity. Together, this makes for a very special creative partnership – reciprocal, political, mutually responsive, based in open dialogue rather than conflict and competition, and as such, entirely in keeping with the spirit of the Open Dance School, and the wider Glasgow underground.