National Dance Company Wales: Open Air Performance
- Kelly Apter
- 22 August 2021
Synchronised movement and clapping hands stir the senses in this filmed outdoor Fringe double-bill from National Dance Company Wales
In the unfeasibly long list of things people have missed over the past 18 months, three of them make a kind of comeback in this National Dance Company Wales double-bill. First up, as you might expect, is dancing. Company member Faye Tan's 15-minute work, Moving is everywhere, forever is a celebration of losing yourself in the beat. A lone dancer finds her groove and is slowly joined by four others. But they may as well all be performing solos, so lost are they in their own little worlds, loving the freedom of movement afforded them, music pulsating through every vein.
As highly engaging as these moments are, it's the group action that really sets Tan out as an emerging choreographer to watch. Synchronised movement in a horseshoe formation or straight line gives the dancers a sense of shared joy. Brief bursts of freestyle fall back into structured choreography as if they're drawn to each other like magnets, hands quivering like they're delivering a haka. Given that the piece is performed on an empty rugby field, it feels right at home. And it's the field that evokes that other lost art: the festival. With only five people, it's a poorly attended one for sure, but Tan channels the open-air who-cares-about-the-weather lost-in-music vibe so well. The soundtrack by Welsh electronic duo Larch hooks you in from start to finish, while the costumes, many of which look drawn from a particularly splendid dressing-up box, only add to the sense of free abandonment.
Ed Myhill's Why Are People Clapping? brings us that third lost art: clapping. A thing we've sorely missed doing in venues. Myhill uses the same green space as Tan, but takes a very different approach to his soundtrack, employing Steve Reich's 'Clapping Music' like a Foley artist. So the only beat here is the rhythmic hand-clapping of the five dancers, as they work their way through a range of recognisable scenarios.
A tennis match (a clap mimicking the thwack of ball on racket) morphs into a relentless insect buzzing around their heads (each clap an attempt to trap the source of their annoyance) followed by mock horse riding (claps replicating the clip clop of hooves). When the moments of pure choreographed dance come, they're a pleasure to watch. But perhaps there's a good reason Steve Reich brought his work to a close after less than five minutes: listening to hand-clapping for quarter of an hour left me longing to climb back inside Larch's groove.
National Dance Company Wales: Open Air Performance, ZOOTV.LIVE, until Saturday 28 August, £5.