Review: Cardiff Dance Festival – Wrongheaded & In This Moment @ Chapter

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Cardiff Dance Festival: Liz Roche Company – Wrongheaded & Laïla Diallo – In This Moment
Chapter Arts Centre
Wednesday 8th November & Thursday 9th November 2017

A warm welcome back for the Cardiff Dance Festival, for what will prove a moving, challenging and exhausting week and a half. This may only be their second outing (it was first on in 2015), but I know the festival shall keep moving forwards and strive to be an annual event for the Cardiff arts scene. It’s overwhelming to see the variety and talent on display for CDF. With much to see and more events being added into to the programme, anyone seeing even a fraction of the goings on are in for a real treat.

There was a good buzz at Chapter for the opening night. Welcomes over drinks were in order and huge thanks for those who made the festival happen. I drank in the atmosphere and two beers, within the company of dancers and other creatives, feeling like the festival really meant something.

Wrongheaded press picture. Cardiff Dance Festival

The opener was intense to say the least. Wrongheaded tackles the mighty theme of what is means to be a women currently in the Irish climate (both countries I should point out). The 8th amendment to their constitution has called into questions the morality of termination in the early stages of being pregnant. How does a still predominately Catholic countries tackle the woman’s right to have a choice in her own matters?

Wrongheaded handles these questions in a very respectable manner. The words written by Elaine Feeney are a whirlwind of frantic, stream of consciousness dialogue, that is at times hard to keep up with. It’s comparable with Beckett and to a lesser degree James Joyce (though the mention of a girl called Molly who has her breasts fondled is quintessentially Joyce). It’s vivid stuff, with brittle poetic apparitions that you bring your sympathies to. This all-speaking voice appears to command our attention, through its fragility and urgency in such a telling way.

The choreography by Liz Roche is alarming and frantic in its depiction of verifying the words. Both dancers Sarah Cerneaux and Justine Cooper have a seamless skill in their fluidity and bounce. At times, they are razor sharp in the double dance and at others points, have deeply sensual solos. Film work by Mary Wycherley, is screened upon the floor has a extreme feel to it, with the quaking bodies and dream landscapes.

Ray Harmon’s score compliments the mood perfectly with a soundscape which is just the right balance of stillness and also contentment. Lighting designer Stephan Dodd isn’t afraid to use most of the lamps on offer in Chapter’s theatre and it has some glorious highlights, featuring both dancers in near darkness, their shadows placed perfectly on the back wall and also to work with the film piece also being displayed.

Returning the next night for In This Moment, I was treated again to a second performance of Wrongheaded. I found it aided in the breakneck delivery of the words and I could take in all aspects better in this second visitation. What I was back for originally was In This Moment by Laïla Diallo. Reading the programme, it stated that the piece had started out as a two hander and Laïla found the way to adapt and make it work as a solo work.

It’s an exquisite little gem of a piece. Laïla has such a way with her mood and movement, it feels like the artist is under a lot of exposure during the performance, but is played with such grace and determination, it soon becomes compelling. Her views on time and memory are curious and her movements within a chair, defy the limitations a dancer might find if sitting down.

She uses tape to form a clock-like structure around the space, dances passionately to Mozart and recreates the moves from the start of the piece. There is much to consider in this brief work, as it’s so relatable in its defiance and uncertainty. Additional music by Jules Maxwell on piano adds to this evocation, first on speakers then on an old fashioned tape recorder, proof of his adaptability, as well as Laïla’s.

I do feel more of an audience should have seen this, since it was not programmed on the first night.

Who knows what we are plunged into next?

Fierce, insightful & moving.

Wrongheaded Rating: ⭑⭑⭑⭑
In This Moment Rating: ⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑

Cardiff Dance Festival continues at Chapter Arts Centre and the Wales Millennium Centre till 19th November 2017.

Mary Wycherley’s film work from Wrongheaded is to be screened at the Underwire Festival, London in late November 2017.

Cover Image: Cardiff Dance Festival Website

Related Articles:

Review: NDCW – P.A.R.A.D.E. & Tundra @ WMC

Review: National Dance Company Wales – Profundis & The Green House @ Sherman


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