Theo Clinkard: This Bright Field
- Gareth K Vile
- 18 October 2017
Choreographer Theo Clinkard attempts to move into an adventurous production with one foot in the past
With a clear division between its four episodes – including a brief introduction with the audience on stage surrounding the dancers – This Bright Field attempts to cover a wide range of moods and emotions through Theo Clinkard's disciplined movement vocabulary. The choreography evokes ballet in its precision and elegance, while consciously subverting its basic movements towards a style that is free-flowing, and draws on the impressive training of the dancers.
The soundtrack, composed by James Keane, is predominantly a neutral background to the movement: when it uses melody or, most strikingly, the sudden appearance of a live drummer, it connects more powerfully with the dancers. Yet despite its volume, it is often detached from the choreography, adding to the production's sense of cerebral, rather than emotional, engagement.
While Clinkard's programme notes suggest he is chasing 'the thrill of being connected to, and empowered by, something greater than ourselves', his choreography concentrates on presenting rather than expressing emotions: the intimacy of the first episode comes from the dancers interacting with each other and acknowledging the audience rather than directly engaging them, and the show culminates with a performance of a clubbing experience that loses immediacy for boisterous display. The long gap between the first episode and the rest of the performance only adds to the sense of distance and hobbles the emotional affect.
Yet This Bright Field remains a dynamic celebration of dance: the fourth sequence makes tremendous use of live music, costume and lighting to suggest a vibrant, happy ritual, while the nakedness of the third revels in a restrained sensuality – and a few humorous touches that don't quite work. Clinkard's ambition catches him between a respectable – and predictable –choreography that showcases his ensemble's brilliance and a more experimental urge to challenge the traditional limits of contemporary dance.
Seen at Tramway, Glasgow.