This was a strange, exciting, visually stunning work that can best be defined as a ‘dance theatre event’.
Twisted Element has finally returned (hooray) after several years hiatus and with a slightly changed name to bring us this ‘immersive and interactive contemporary dance theatre work’.
The ensemble work was strong and terrific, requiring precise control and there were some excellent solos and duets.
A lot depended on the special costumes the performers wore, as well as the lighting design which was very effective.
The electronic soundscape beeped, throbbed and hummed.
As we entered the space we were greeted by the sight of Charlotte Schinckel-Brown who was standing on a plinth. She was topless (but taped across revealing areas) and was wearing a long, specially formed skirt that was circular at the bottom. It was quite sculptural and the effect was beautiful and challenging. She used her arms in long stretched lines above her head or in angular poses. Eventually she descended and used the skirt in various formations.
There was a major extended solo for Sophie Carter in the first half of the work as she was the outsider, ‘cast’ away from the rest of the group.
For most of the show, the cast wore white costumes with short white skirts. For one section, however, they become mysterious, dangerous figures in black, and in the ‘Barbie doll’ section they wear pink outfits with silver wigs.
One of the main aspects of this work was the wonderful full face masks of energy lights the performers wore in various sections that gave a spectacular effect, sometimes as if they were futuristic aliens, at other times undersea creatures …or are they stars , atoms or microbes?!
Choreographically the work was fascinating and at times quite demanding. Dancers rolled, slithered, pulsated together in a huddled sculptural writhing mass …At another point they were like writhing, undulating sea creatures. Mostly the style could best be defined as ‘contemporary’ , and if you looked closely you could see snippets of influences of Butoh or even Martha Graham.
A couple of times the performers entered and moved down the rows of the audience.In one section most of the performers sat mysteriously veiled on a plinth – cocooned like as if a butterfly.
In another section, the dancers were robot like, and performed with very precise timing.
There was an interactive section as two of the ‘dolls’, Naomi Hibberd and Jodie Toogood. had a very funny bump and meet duet, one of them ‘accidentally’ stealing the bag of the other, which then turned into them beckoning the audience forward and then sitting on the floor, while a couple of those closest to the performers were invited to help apply makeup.
The work contained multi layered references not only to ballet history and the work Coppelia but also sci fi and the way women are portrayed in society.
The work was brought to a spectacular end with a duet: two of the performers, Sophie Carter and Francesca Gozdek, entered in full face masks, one leading the other on what at first seemed to be a leash but eventually turning into an umbilical cord and then becoming a long ‘braid’ of ‘hair’ that the dancers swirled and twirled in the exciting finale.
Running time an hour.
OPUS by Twisted Element was performed at DUTI Studios, 82-84 Enmore Rd Enmore on the 3rd and 4th June 2017.
OPUS was produced and choreographed by Angela Hamilton
Charlotte Twitchwell Sophie Carter
Sami Jane Smith