|Queen & Queer rehearsal - Photography by Mickey Xu|
Thursday 18th February at The Place, London.
Nikki & JD’s Le Lien, co-produced by Jacksons Lane, narrates a story of a past relationship between the two dancers through spoken word, gravity-defying circus skills, contemporary and Latin movements. Le Lien effortlessly combines gasp-inducing spectacle, such as single hand-to-hand lifts, with tender and intimate moments reflecting an entire range of thoughts and feelings encountered in the course of the relationship. We see Nikki bend and manipulate JD’s body like clay as she describes what to her makes the perfect physique of a partner at one point and at another the couple climb and swerve around each other like a couple in bed struggling to find the balance between holding a partner and being comfortable. Like all good stories about relationships, Le Lien is equally funny and heartbreaking. A rare treat to see acrobatic prowess mixed with soulfulness.
Second on the evening bill was .2Dot’s exploration of sexuality and identity, Queen & Queer. Choreographed by .2Dot founders Antonio Branco and Riccardo T, dancer and drag artist Manny Queen makes a commanding entrance as she boldly glides in, like on a catwalk, and with her heel closes a laptop on the ground playing her recent music video. Queen & Queer evokes a heady club atmosphere and mixes it up with conceptual art and pop culture. Manny piles on wig after wig until her face disappears in a heaving mountain of blonde, red and brown. One by one the wigs fly off in succession as Manny dances, reminiscent of Beyoncé, to a relentless beat. It feels like a growing identity that can sometimes feel incredibly overwhelming. A voiceover lists labels that society and communities throw at people and brings to question how much of identity is determined by oneself and others. At the end Manny shears a wig for the duration of Handel’s Lascia ch’io pianga - it’s cinematic in a very Fellini sense and, fittingly, highly theatrical.
The final performance was Dust by Spain-based AGITART. Choreographed by Roger Fernández Cifuentes, four dancers entwine each others’ bodies and limbs to form a mass moving and evolving like ever-spreading lava. Working together to form a force of nature, the flowing mass gradually disintegrates and each dancer is eventually alone yet echoing the moves of others. The latter end of the performance feels like a fraught internal struggle as the individuals move around each other yet keep a stifling distance before finally reuniting and facing each other, breathless. A very hypnotic work.