D@rwin’s Cultiv-8 production reviewed by Charlotte Constable.

2nd Feb 2013
Performing Arts Studio 2, The University of Winchester
Artistic Director: Debbie Lee-Anthony

Tonight the University of Winchester’s touring dance company, D@win, presented another of their eclectic annual productions. This year the work, entitled Cultiv-8 and directed by Debbie Lee-Anthony, saw the third year choreographers within the company experimenting with some charming original themes and demonstrating a tendency towards physical theatre.

Holly Gibson’s Rapping George’s Knuckles was a highly engaging and funny play on the ‘See No Evil…’ proverb, a meeting of Commedia dell’arte and the voiceless expression of cartoons, directly complemented by its Gershwin soundtrack. The subtle integration of the hand positions indicated by the proverb complemented the fresh take on the simple idea, which introduced the hilarious trials and tribulations of a trio of escaping prisoners.

Another demonstration of inventiveness was expressed in some of the aural accompaniments. When it Rains…, a collaborative creation by all of the third year students performing in it, was supported by a recording of David Attenborough discussing elephants at the watering hole: an intelligent metaphor for the very human fight to get under shelter in a storm. Kimberley Jarnak and Sadbh Lawlors’ Undercurrent took live sound in new directions, with aggressive body percussion, frustrated sighs and opposing melodic and melancholic whistles.

Abbi Clare Saunders’ Velocity and Emily Try’s Fray emphasised a sophisticated level of control, with Eleanor H-Smith’s back bend in the former executed without a wobble, her shoulders surely no more than an inch from the floor. But it was the committed acting performances of the 12-strong company which really shone. Facial expressions in Lauren Jacobsen’s Lights Out got loads of laughs, as a gaggle of flailing toys fought to escape the confines of their shop, scrambling and shoving mercilessly to the front door. The closing work, Laura Gemoli and Erika Montenegros’ La Dolce Vita, was a caricature of Italian drama, with excellent vocal talents and enough energy and fast-paced spatial rearrangements to rival any musical theatre finale.