Aerial dance raises some fine moving images, leaving others grounded

dance review | Read in About 2 minutes
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Creature, by Vanessa Cook Dance
Published 05 Aug 2017

Beginning and ending with intrigue and strong choreographic ideas, this five-person aerial and ground-based dance piece from Switzerland sags towards uninspiring in the middle. Choreographic fight duets—a common feature in much contemporary acrobatic work—present unspecific aggression, fleshing out the space between more innovative concepts. 

The tantalising zorb-type sphere of the publicity material is disappointingly under-used, but a human counterweighting section of aerial harness work is given loving attention, transforming the rigging process from workmanlike practicality into slowly spun art. Choreographer Vanessa Cook is serenely graceful in the air and, amongst the whip-neck precision of more traditional dancer physiques, the heavier movements of Tobias Spori on the other end of her rope become especially watchable. Likewise, Spori draws the eye on the ground—and when forming a circuit between floor and aerial strap—with a natural roughness to his performance.

Synchronised swings across the stage in twos or threes are carefully worked out, the dancers brushing the floor with palms or toes before planting again into the ground, and Alessandra Ruggeri is vibrantly snappy in a floor solo. The strongest ideas though are diluted by surfeit, and at times even individual movements lack follow-through. 

A theme of separation and attraction is clarified by a recorded speech, including words from essayist John Berger, which closes Moritz Alfons's soundscape. His compositions lend a touch of humour to the piece with jungle snarls and water drips, as well as providing energy spikes that shift the dynamic onstage, provoking new sections of ideas that don't quite connect with one another conceptually.