Evaluation of the performance by Phoenix Dance Theatre
On the 13th November 2015, I went to the Royal Opera House to see a show by Phoenix Dance Theatre. Their show was split into three sections of different dance pieces. This is my evaluation on each dance piece.
Repetition of Change
What I liked about the lighting, was how subtle it was. There was really no change to the lighting and I loved how it would not distract you from the intarsias of the piece. Another thing I like about the lighting was that, it was scattered around different parts of the stage that related to how they were moving. A lot of the movement that was in this dance, was very scattered like the lighting. It was lovely to see the relationship between the light and the dancers/movement. At certain points in the dance they would come back to their starting position of being in a line walking towards the back. Then one or two dancers would come out of that line and do a solo. What I loved about this spotlight was the further back they went it looked almost like the dancers were fading away so you couldn’t actually see them go behind a curtain because you couldn’t see them anymore. I found this absolutely genius because it keeps the magic of the piece alive, and it gives it a sense of mystery.
What I liked about the costumes was how simple they were. Since the piece is very punchy and quite active it was nice to see that their costumes were fit for the purpose of what they needed to give the piece, which was high energy and sharp movements. The costumes also allowed me to see the shape of their legs, which I think was smart because a lot of the piece was based around lengthening of the legs and plies. Which was nice to be able to see. As well as this I also like the white costume that the one of the dancers came on wearing. The reason I like this because it showed individuality and it also told a story without having to move. By seeing someone wear a different coloured costume from everyone else it helps you to see visually that, that person is different. However, what I would change about the costumes was the way the top half fitted on the female dancers. Sometimes when they would dance it would look a bit uncomfortable when the shirts would rise up.
What I liked about the performance was that, you could tell they were enjoying themselves and they were having fun. Usually when you watch dance performances sometimes they are so focused on their technique and doing the moves perfect, they forget to perform it and show they are enjoying themselves. I also like that in the performance they would always keep eye contact with each other, and sometimes smile. I was nice to see they acknowledged each other’s presence on stage. By doing this, it felt like they were dancing more like a team/company than individuals. Another thing I liked in the performance was the emotion that they conveyed throughout the dance through their facial expression. They did very well to convey different emotions at different points in the dance. What I also loved about this dance is how much attack and energy they put into it. I felt like they gave everything they had to that dance, and you could tell they gave 100% of everything they had to it. However, at some point there were timing issues. Sometimes some dancers will be too late, or too early and you wouldn’t know if it was supposed to be like that (like in cannon) or if they made a mistake. It would have been nice to have seen the dance a bit more precise.
At the start of the dance everyone was in a white costume when they were all on stage. However when the dancers gradually began to leave, they left one girl on the stage to do a solo. Then the other female dancers came back on in different coloured dresses, which showed their individuality. As well as this the costume change went with the change in the mood of the dance and the atmosphere. However, what I would change about the costume is that the male dancers would be able to wear individual costumes as well as the girls, on because it seemed weird that only the female had changed their costumes, but the males didn’t. Despite this though, the costumes for the girls really related to tears because the costume flowed when the moved.
The lighting at the start, came from the side of the stage. Which was quite subtle. However, a little bit after the start of the dance they turned on this harsh blue lighting that came from the top of the stage and they looked like tear drops. I like this type of lighting, because of the angle of it and the different colour created a really cool effect on the dancers. I also liked that the lighting set the mood of the dance, which was based on emotion of crying and tear. The blue lighting for me represented tears.
In the performance, I like the use of the balloon, because of the way they swayed to the music when the dancers manipulate them and how, to me, because of their oval shape they reminded me of tears. However, what I didn’t like about the balloons was they were not used that much in the piece. I thought, because they were brought onto the stage they would be an intricate part of this certain section of the piece. However, they were only used for 20 seconds and then left on stage while the dancers were dancing around them. However, they were not dancing around them, like they were still connected to the dance. Instead, it looked like they were dancing around them because they are in their way. What I would definitely change about the props used would be, to use the balloons more in the piece because I really felt that there was a good connection between tears and the balloons. I also like the movement quality and how fluid the piece was. It looked as if it was constantly moving, which is like a tear drop. When it leaves your eye it is constantly moving till there is nothing left of it. I though this aspect of the dance really connected with the theme. Another thing I liked about the performance in this piece, was at the start of the piece one of the male dancers talked about the scientific aspect of tears. I found that really interesting and different, because in many performances you find that the only thing the dancers seem to do is dance. There is no verbal communication towards the audience, which can make a dance seem really disconnected from the audience. However, by speaking is a dance in itself, the way you make sound is through vibrations/movement of your vocal chords at different speeds and tempos. This also connects to the way your mouth moves (dances) when speaking and pronouncing words. I found this a really lovely and genius aspect of the piece.
This is one of my favourite aspects about the dance was the costumes and what they brought to the characters they were creating. As well as this, all the costumes had a funny but quite eerie quality about them. For example, the main dancer of the piece had a mask on his face that had a permanent confused and shy look on it. This represented his character very well because his character was supposed to be shy and quite introverted. However, he wanted to fit in and be with the other dancers. Another dancer had the costume portraying a ballerina, but instead of having a pink ballerina costume, it was black and had a messy/broken quality to it. This fit her character as well, because she was quite a troubled character from the way she moved, however she wanted to be seen as a perfect ballerina. Another female dancers costume was a red dress. To me this fit her character because in the dance she wanted to be noticed by this man, so by wearing this red dress it symbolised being sexy and wanting someone to notice you. Her dance partner, was the man she was trying to please. He wore a suite, which gave him the character of someone in power and someone desirable.
In the piece, the lighting was a comical part of this dance. A lot of the time, the main dancer would go into the spotlight and then suddenly it would change and appear somewhere else on the stage. I found this a nice part of the piece because it is really connected with the piece. To me, that spotlight represented being noticed and fitting in, and that was really the main theme for me of the piece. The piece, unlike the others, was supposed to be funny and the changing of spotlight showed that comical humour that was in the piece. I also liked the different colours the used when each individual was doing their solo. When the main character (who was shy) would do his solo, the colours they used for the spotlight was white/yellow. To me this symbolised his innocence in the dance. The female dancer in the red dress however, when she danced her lights were red. I think this was to signify passion and desire because in her solo she was dancing for the man in the suite. However the female dancer portraying a ballerina, her spotlight was blue. To me this signifies how she really felt inside, almost cold and sad. However on the outside she is trying her best to look perfect and not make a mistake.
At the start of the performance, the dancers where sitting at a table making sounds with their mouths, almost like they were having a conversation with each other however, we cannot understand what they are saying. As this is happening the main dancer crawls on his hack to the spotlight with a microphone stand on his stomach. I loved this part of the dance, because it showed his real disconnection from the group and also showed how shy his character was. He was too shy and scared he couldn’t even walk, he had to crawl. In the performance the main character was supposed to be a singer, but instead of singing different recorded songs from real singers were used and he danced to them and interpreted them through movement. I thought this was a great connection to use in the dance because singing and dance both use movement, and I found it interesting how he could convey the words of the song through dance. In connection to the singing, because he had a microphone with him on stage he used it in the dance. I like how he used it not as a prop to show he was a singer, but actually integrated it into his movement and used it like it was an extra limb/apart of his body. When the dancer portraying a ballerina did her solo, she had a fake/unrealistic look on her face. She was completely smiling, but she looked like she was forcing it. I also liked the different movement qualities they all had depending on their character. That, just conveyed their characters more and gave more layers to the story they were telling the audience.
My favourite dance out of the three sections was Bloom. I just loved its uniqueness and attention to detail to giving each dancer their own specific character. This was not only done through costume but through movement and their individual solo. It was completely entertaining and fantastic to watch. I was captivated from the beginning to the end.
My second favourite dance was Repetition of Change. This one gave the most energy out of all the pieces. It focused on technique and to show of the dancer’s way of moving fully. I found this one of the most fun to watch because the dancer were really enjoying it, which made me in turn enjoy it even more.
My least favourite piece was Tearful. For me this piece was really interesting, but it lacked substance. There were beautiful moments in it, like the dance with the balloons in the middle of the piece. However, it didn’t make me feel anything and I just felt like I was watching a dance and not a piece of art conveying emotion and a story. I would have like to have seen more manipulation of the balloons because that was my favourite part.
In conclusion, it was a very enjoyable experience for me. The dances were incredibly versatile and unique in their own special way.