Theatrical/Dance Review:
Liz Liew & Yuyu Rau's 'Snapshots,' Et Al, The Place, Euston,
London WC1H, Saturday 12th January 2013
The Place presents:
Resolution! 2013


Liz Liew & Yuyu Rau - Snapshots

David Willdridge - Leave Elegance to the Tailor

Attach Dance Company - Divide


The Place
Robin Howard Dance Theatre
17 Dukes Road, Euston, London WC1H 9AB
Saturday 12th January 2013, 8pm



Programme


Liz Liew & Yuyu Rau - Snapshots

Liz Liew - composer, keyboard, violin, vocals
Yuyu Rau - choreographer, dancer
Dennis Kwong Thye Lee - guzheng (Chinese zither), xiao (Chinese flute)
Duration: app. 25 mins

Interval


David Willdridge - Leave Elegance to the Tailor

David Willdridge - choreographer, dancer
Daniela B. Larsen - dancer
Jim Pinchen - composer, piano, mandolin, cello, xylophone, guitar
Ouldouz Jawaheri - violin
Paula Varjack - voice
Duration: app. 15 mins

Interval




Date of Review: 2013/01/13



 
Photo of Liz Liew
Composer and multi-instrumentalist Liz Liew

Attach Dance Company (Andy Macleman & Drew Hawkins) - Divide


Andy Macleman & Drew Hawkins - choreography, dancers
Hannah Wintie - dancer
Emily Thompson-Smith - dancer
Music: 'La Danes des Machines' - Lucien Dubuis,
'Marc Ribot Hounfour' - Haxan Cloak
Duration: app. 17 mins

















Liz Liew & Yuyu Rau's 'Snapshots,' Et Al, The Place, Euston,
London WC1H, Saturday 12th January 2013

The three performances reviewed here were all part of the nightly trilogies of dance performances in The Place's annual Resolution! series, the world's biggest platform for new dance, held in The Place's Robin Howard Dance Theatre. The theatre has a good sized stage and excellent lighting and audio facilities, matched by a respectable audience capacity. Which, on last night's occasion, was filled to capacity bar perhaps a handful of side seats.

Liz Liew & Yuyu Rau - Snapshots

The first of last night's three performances had aroused my interest, nay fascination, well in advance, having first heard excerpts from the score and then seen parts of the rehearsals that had been uploaded to YouTube.

Liz Liew & Yuyu Rau's Snapshots was to be a personal exploration of key moments in the composer's life and the emotions involved, with dancer Rau interpreting these various 'snapshots' through a skillful and elegant combination of Chinese classical and modern dance and martial arts. In addition, at various points visual 'snapshots' were also projected onto the background.



Photo of Yuyu Rau
Dancer Yuyu Rau. Photo ©Alicia Clarke

To deal with Liew's live score first, this was indisputably excellent and surely would deserve release as, perhaps an extended, suite in its own right.

An elegant, organic blend of Chinese and Western classical as well as contemporary elements, it beautifully demonstrates just how close the two different traditions actually are, laying bare the widespread myth in the West of the 'inaccessibility' and 'strangeness' of Chinese music for the prejudice that it is.

The instrumentation was likewise a fascinating and beautiful blend of West - keyboard and violin - and East - guzheng and xiao, the former one of the most prominent members of the Chinese long board zither family which utilises the playing of upper harmonics to achieve its full range and which contributes to its beautiful sonority, the latter a long, vertical flute. The Chinese zithers are sadly relatively rarely heard in the West, at any rate in comparison to fiddles like the er-hu and lutes such as the pi'pa and the various members of the ruan family, and the yang-quin ('foreign zither,' actually a hammered dulcimer derived from the Persian santur). Hence it was a special delight to hear the guzheng here on a couple of occasions, albeit in amplified form.

Rau's choreography and supple, elegant and energetic dance performance was as noteworthy and excellent as the score. Together, live music and dance certainly more than held the interest and even fascination.
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However, it also has to be said that the pauses between individual snapshots seemed a little overly long. Where they occurred, the visual 'snapshots' projected onto the background actually seemed more of a distraction than adding to the experience. A case of a little sensory overload, actually.

Photo of Yuyu Rau, with guzheng
Dancer Yuyu Rau, with guzheng zither in background at right. Photo ©Alicia Clarke

As excellent as live score, choreography and dancing were, it was somewhat difficult to discern the story of Snapshots. This was not helped by the aforementioned overly long pauses between individual 'snapshots,' of course. The lighting (uncredited) seemed at times more of a distraction and designed purely for effect, rather than enhancing the performance.

Photo of Yuyu Rau
Dancer Yuyu Rau. Photo ©Alicia Clarke

However, music and dance were both sufficient to carry Snapshots, and to make this a riveting experience. At roughly twenty-five minutes, this was the longest of the three performances, yet it held the attention throughout. Kudos to both Ms. Liew and Ms. Rau! Altogether, Snapshots was an enjoyable performance. The fact that it was somewhat hard to discern the actual storyline of the piece must be put down to production rather than anything else.

David Willdridge - Leave Elegance to the Tailor

Performed to a recorded score by Jim Pinchen, and choreography by David Willdridge, Leave Elegance to the Tailor was performed by Willdridge himself and Daniela B. Larsen.

In spite of what the title might have let one to believe, elegance was very much to the fore in this performance, as was imaginative choreography.

Score and choreography seemed a perfect match, and one hardly dared blink for being afraid of missing a moment!

 

Score, choreography and performance deserve equal credit in Leave Elegance to the Tailor. Riveting throughout, this performance - as indeed the previous and following ones - amply demonstrated that modern dance has a lot to say and is not always divorced from what is generally perceived as dance, as is often the perception of the general public.

Lighting was used to maximum effect and underscored the performance excellently.

An elegant, enjoyable and excellent performance that was made to look superbly effortless.

Attach Dance Company - Divide

Again performed to a recorded score, of pieces by Lucien Dubuis and Haxan Cloak, with choreography by Andy Macleman and Drew Hawkins, Divide was performed by the Attach Dance Company - the two choreographers and Hannah Wintie and Emily Thompson-Smith.

Here, the title and programme notes were almost superfluous, so self-evident was the theme of this performance.

Divide married excellent choreography to superb performance that was elegant as well as often athletic, and always spellbinding. The stage space and lighting were used to excellent effect throughout.

 

Another imaginative piece, that again was made to seem almost effortless in spite of being highly demanding of its performers, and that proved a very enjoyable and excellent performance.


Altogether, last night's triple bill of dance performances was a most enjoyable experience. If this is anything to go by, don't miss a single night in The Place's Resolution! 2013 season if dance appeals to you, and even if you're not normally a particular fan of modern dance! If time permitted, I would gladly attend every night.


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