Thursday 24 August 2017

Drama required as dance is left out on a limb

Dance: Sunny, Abbey Theatre, Dublin

Synchronised movement: Sunny at the Abbey Theatre
Synchronised movement: Sunny at the Abbey Theatre

Coming from France, this presents a snapshot of what contemporary international choreography has to offer. The show for 10 dancers is co-created by choreographer Emanuel Gat and musician Awir Leon, who sings and plays on stage. The name and tone of the show are derived from 'Sunny', the song made popular by Marvin Gaye.

The piece moves through three phases on an almost bare stage. The first is where the dancers mainly wear slips, leotards and shorts; the second, where they enter in elaborate fancy dress; in the third they are dressed in casual gear.

The choreography has an improvisational feel, but is also highly disciplined. The dancers occasionally emit words and noise, becoming part of the soundscape. At one point they continuously interrupt themselves by saying 'stop'. Leon's electronic music ranges from an almost techno beat, with heavy base and percussive effect, to a melodious sweetness. At 65 minutes, the piece feels episodic.

There is obviously no narrative build, but neither is there a development of tension, so while much of the choreography is impressive, it doesn't accumulate in power. The most effective element is the synchronised movement. The dancers are all splendid, and each asserts their individuality. One dancer has an artificial arm, which fits in gracefully as just one more individualistic limb. But the piece needs more drama. The music hasn't enough excitement, the choreography needs something more spectacular, the dancing tone is joyless. Only the singer appears to be having a good time. - Katy Hayes

Science: Brian Cox, 3Arena, Dublin

Despite the extra security there was only a slight delay to the beginning of an eagerly awaited sold-out performance by science, physics and cosmology's new pin-up boy, Professor Brian Cox.

The omnipresent BBC presenter has become something of a successor to Patrick Moore and David Attenborough. He takes to the stage alongside a series of glossy slides illustrating the wonder of the galaxy and the Milky Way and pays heartfelt tribute to the Manchester terror attack victims by reading an extract from Carl Sagan's 1994 book Pale Blue Dot.

"Look again at that dot," Cox reads. "That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives." Cox is joined by his BBC Radio 4 co-presenter of The Infinite Monkey Cage, Robin Ince, who reveals Dublin has one of the most loyal and enthusiastic audiences for their popular podcasts.

"There's far more people out to see you tonight then ever came along to see D:Ream," Ince cackles in reference to the 'Things Can Only Get Better' pop band that Cox once played keyboards for. Cox has brought popular appeal to science, and this riveting appearance is just what we need in a week when going out to see a show became something altogether more tragic. - Eamon Sweeney

Irish Independent

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