3 Feb 2024

Place Resolution 2024 - works by Elly Trent/ Olia Poliakova/ Callum Murray, Ella Swannell Amalfitano and Terry Smith

A mixed night of bold, unforgiving, experiment at The Place’s Resolution 2024…

The Place’s generic picture for this show. Photo © The Place.The Place’s generic picture for this show. Photo © The Place.

Place Resolution festival
Elly Trent, Olia Poliakova and Callum Murray: Do it again
Ella Swannell Amalfitano: Hold of Us
Terry Smith: The Chair
2 Feb 2024
London, The Place

Resolution is The Place’s annual festival of new choreography and performance works by emerging artists. This review was originally commissioned by The Place as part of Resolution Review, where established dance writers are paired with new writers (interested in writing about dance) to cover each night of the festival. The original review on this page (and its companion review) can be found at: https://theplace.org.uk/blogs-stories/fri-2-feb

The festival is about experiment” is the line that jumps out at you from Place Artistic Director Eddie Nixon’s introductory notes to all the Resolution shows, and bold, unforgiving, experiment seemed the watchword of Friday night’s particularly dramatic pieces.

Do it again is a work for three about creating a work, split into two: the creation in a bare, well-lit studio, followed by a very brief performance under moody dark lighting with much smoky haze. Do it again explores the playful, challenging and tedious act of practice” start the programme notes. And I certainly picked up on the tedious, big time, as one directing performer twiddled electronic sound knobs and wrote post-it notes at a table while the other two repetitiously repetitiously (that was not a typo) played out not-so-memorable or challenging movement interactions and slowly removed many, many layers of clothing, beneath a wayward digital timer. It felt like a surreal work trapped somewhere between humour and reality, and to develop needs to build on one or the other.

Following the surreal, the remainder of the night took on the darker side of the human condition, first with Ella Swannell Amalfitanos Hold of Us. It’s an episodic piece for 6, exploring dissociation and feelings of longing and despair in various contemporary solos and duets. It felt at its best as one human being sought to support others, but for the most part, I saw generic dramatic, despairing movement, but not the deeper character within that would drive home such unhappiness - it didn’t get under my skin. Hold of Us might deliver more with fewer character dancers coloured in more depth.

The unhappiness theme piled on as despair turned to suicide, the subject of Terry Smiths The Chair. Thoughtfully danced in silence by Lise Boucon, it uses a chair as a cipher for the departed’s spirit and has Boucon grappling around and with it in contorted positions as she tries to work through her feelings about such a calamitous event. At first I was much moved, but the work didn’t seem to develop and as the chair slowly receded from front of stage to back, into the ending curtain-down blackness, we all felt a sense of relief and that our night could only brighten up.