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Dance Review: Chalk/Of Land & Tongue ****

Lorna Irvine reviews an impressive double bill, part of this year's Dance International Glasgow festival.


Theo Clinkard and James Keane are on a mission: to make their audience consider where they came from in a much wider context. With this in mind, Clinkard takes us to his home, Peacehaven, close to the chalk hills near Beachy Head, in a series of choreography responses to soundscapes created live and looped by Keane.

Clinkard's choreography is intuitive, elemental and forever on the brink of collapse, a study in frailty and elegant vulnerability. He and Keane, both clad in work overalls, can't resist some playfulness too, though, as they balance on large pieces of chalk and a simple plastic bag is scrunched into two microphones and played back to a soothing loop, which builds to a crescendo and gets darker. Even celery is deployed here--torn, crunched and ripped apart, then sampled as music. It could be considered a vegetarian riposte to Matthew Herbert's controversial One Pigalbum from 2011, which charted the journey of poor innocent pigs, from field, to slaughter house to plate.

The darker side of Beachy Head as a popular suicide spot is also alluded to--a small piece of celery, left over from the sample, is left on a table, like the figure of a tiny person at the edge of a large precipice. A full skeleton costume is worn by Clinkard, showing the duality at the heart of his work--at once fun and utterly deadly serious.

Human fallibility in every form... all is ephemeral, and precariously balanced.

Of Land & Tongue

The second piece looks at the impossibility--and possibilities--of communication and diaspora, particularly with regards to words that do not exist in any other language--'dreich', being one example (Scots for wet, drizzly, miserable weather which cuts through your bones) and 'yoin' (Japanese for a reverberation that moves, long after the stimulus has ended). It's both poetry in motion and contrasting emotions in motion, set to a soundtrack of uke, guitar, breakbeat and an increasing babble of voices.

The fantastic cast of six play with ideas about language and movement. Some lucky people in the audience are given food and wine. In a childlike routine, Frances Christeller and Sofie Burgoyne play out an absurd game of kiss chase, where Christeller can never reach her, much to her mischievous delight. Her movements become increasingly athletic as she slaps him down and high-fives the rest of the cast. But Luke Divall and Leah Marojevic are my personal favourites, so joyful, cheeky and flexible even when the tone gets more jarring and enigmatic, as in the lovely, shivery and sleek sequence done in shadows.

There are also moves more animalistic than human, before a rump-shaking finale, which fuses street dance and contemporary shape-shifting shimmies to James Keane's thunderous soundtrack. It makes it impossible not to move in your seat.

If the tones are as variable and seemingly random as the most bewildering human motivation, it all somehow falls into place--such is the joy of Clinkard's choreography. He makes it all look so easy and in the moment. A joy to watch, with everyone getting a chance to shine. Adrian Howells, no stranger himself to mischief and exploring the myriad forms of dance (and to whom this double-bill tonight is dedicated) would surely approve.

Part of Dance International Glasgow festival at Tramway

Chalk - Theo Clinkard [Trailer]:

Theo Clinkard - Of Land & Tongue [Trailer]:

Tags: dance events

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