two dancers, a black woman and white man stare agreesively at each other. He has a hand on her neck. She is bent away from him

Ashley Goosey and Loren Whyte at rehearsal. E14 Dance’s Danube. Chisenhale Dance Space, January 2019. (c) Carole Edrich

Despite the consistency of bright lighting and the large size of Chisenhale Dance Space’s large studio, the atmosphere changes as Katie Boag puts E14 Dance Company through their paces. I wish I could see the performance this coming weekend, but at least I’m at a rehearsal. Watching Katie Boag work with her company is fascinating, and the speed with which the dance sharpens over each iteration a real pleasure.

The thing I like the most is the way the stage is used. Patterning isn’t the abstract-and-complex way of contemporary dance or the too-often-used straight lines and squares of hip hop. We’re in a rehearsal so it’s hard to be sure, but it seems to me that each dancers direction, positioning and patterning is carefully crafted to build texture within the narrative.

As the writhing troupe slowly reveals itself from under a pale shroud, a lone man struggles to escape. Successive rehearsals (each more coherent and poignant than the last) evoke vivid ideas. A crab bucket of humans, a Vigeland sculpture, a reverse Tahara (Jewish burial tradition with shroud) and the state of a struggling nation spring to mind and settle, slowly increasing a feeling of unease which then suddenly breaks.

Gathered at the back, dancers huddle, grouping and regrouping defensively. They line up in a scary depiction of conformity, are controlled or monitored by a single authoritative overseer. A diagonal rush to the front is one of hoped-for release. The positioning of murder, apathy and mayhem a scarily random occurrence.

The build and break of atmosphere and tempo (in this piece, inextricably linked) draw me into the work so well that time passes too quickly and I suddenly realise that I have only a few minutes to take my photos.

The choreography plays well to Ashley Goosey’s, Loren Whyte’s facial expressions overlay a personal story on that of the group, Rikkai Scott, Agata Olszewka, Nora Fancsalszky and Gintare Geltyte add precision, a contemporary hip-hop fusion feel, and a grounded earthiness (though not in that order). But that – like the narrative – is for you to discover.

It’s shaping up well. It’s going to reach into your guts, twist them and leave you wanting more. Go see it. Then tell me here.

Go see Danube at Resolutions on Saturday 19th January
tickets at https://www.theplace.org.uk/whats-on/lizzie-j-klotz-e14-dance-company-matsena-performace-theatre



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