This evening’s performance by Udifydance Company at the University of Winchester, at which they are resident, signified the last leg of their spring ‘And When We Move…’ tour. The company, founded in 2008, comprises three male dancers including young choreographer Christopher Reynolds.
The first piece, entitled ‘Threads’, Reynolds describes pre-performance as representing ‘the connection between two people’. In it, the other two company members, Zack Dennis and Mark Farrant, perform a duet to an atmospheric electronic score by frequent collaborator George ‘Art’ Baker, and Bella Kardasis. The opening moments are slow, the arms initiated peripherally, scooping inwards, their eyes following, entranced. It quickly becomes apparent that Reynolds is a huge fan of floor work, and his choreography incorporates this imaginatively, with the dancers suspending slowly – and very lowly – whilst grasping each other for support. This low level is maintained throughout, with dancers constantly returning to wide lunges and deep pliés, but the pace and change of direction in travel increases as the texture of the score builds, inviting opportunity for the dancers to rise and fall over and over, occasionally to the point of bouncing.
The most powerful moments in ‘Threads’ are the brief moments which hint at some sort of relationship – the turning of each dancers’ head towards each other, just to stare. But, whilst the dancers possess extreme grace, their utter control almost diminishes any sense of passion or rage, leaving me questioning what kind of relationship is being described here.
Reynolds explains that the second piece, ‘And When We Move…’, was devised using literary influence from members of the public asked to finish the sentence of the title on the company’s Facebook group page. A selection of responses chosen to inspire choreography is listed in the programme, and range from the physical and emotional to the mechanical: ‘… we use energy’; ‘… we stir emotion’; ‘… we’ll probably need to use a rental van.’ All of these, whilst not always represented literally and occasionally extremely abstractly, intertwine to inform an eventually very dynamic work.
The pace is initiated more suddenly than in ‘Threads’, with a sudden flurry of movement unfolding the very instant the melody of the score (again by George ‘Art’ Baker and Bellad Kardasis) begins. All at once the dancers start pivoting, twirling, shuffling into every open space possible. This is reminiscent of the introductory section of Siobhan Davies’ innovative 2004 work ‘Bird Song’; the intended focus of the audience is ambiguous, the dancers encompassing the stage in personal, individual travelling sequences. There is also a little more aggression here; dancers constantly grab each other by the scruff of their t-shirts, or use the fragile head and shoulders to provide support in contact, as opposed to the more typically overused hips and thighs.
One standout duet, perhaps hinting at the more mechanical interpretation of the title’s responses, involves Reynolds slapping the leg of his partner to then initiate his partner’s response: a pushing of Reynolds’ head. This creates a circular motion, a rotation, perhaps signifying the ‘wheel’ of movement hinted at in the suggestion of needing a ‘rental van’ to ‘move’. Quite clever.
As the energy level continues to build – more drama, more eye contact, more struggle – I get the feeling there is a lot more to come from Udifydance.