Greenwich Dance and Trinity Laban have partnered to put on a double bill of work, bringing together Amstatten by Robert Clark and Theo Clinkard’s Ordinary Courage at Greenwich Dance Agency. Clark’s work was fleeting but impressionable, containing some very beautiful artistic choices made by Clark and his team or artists. Clinkard’s Ordinary Courage followed a very basic and predictable structure, but there were many moments when the dancing and choreography were able to draw the attention away from this methodical framework.

Theo Clinkard, Ordinary Courage © Pari Naderi
Theo Clinkard, Ordinary Courage
© Pari Naderi

The first piece of the evening was Robert Clark’s Amstatten which he describes in the program as “an allegory on fear and confinement”. It is clear that everything in this piece was incredibly thought out and well executed. From the thin lines of tape, which contributed greatly to the feeling of confinement, to the beautiful lighting and soundscape, this piece was a carefully edited piece of work. Dancer Janina Rajakangas performed movement that was very personal and delicate, connecting to the idea of restricted space without being too literal or overdone.

Guy Hoare’s lighting design was well timed and executed to create an enclosed space within such a huge performance venue. It was clear that Hoare and Clark took great care in the manipulation of light and shadow throughout the piece, and the result was an artistic design that supported the movement and choreographic ideas exquisitely. My only criticism is that I wanted a bit more. The fifteen-minute piece left me grasping at the end for the feeling of a journey and resolution. I did enjoy the fact that Amstatten didn’t overindulge, but it felt like it slipped from me so quickly I didn’t get the chance to fully appreciate the intricacy.

Theo Clinkard’s inaugural work Ordinary Courage followed, a piece that investigated loss and the different paths people take to repair. A cast of seven dance artists wearing colourful but pedestrian clothing take the space, with a white piano and pianist in a downstage corner. Sometimes accompanied by the pianist, while other times dancing to recorded music, the dancers run through a collage of sequences. These sequences seemed to be based on a set of rules, and usually highlighted one dancer in particular, making the storyline very predictable. Additionally, movement was often repeated, and motifs like falling and pushing through groups of people were often used.

Though this repetition and framework proved slightly tiresome, Clinkard was saved by the actual movement within the structure. The dancers each brought a different flavour to the choreography, and the solo and partner sequences were fluid and enjoyable. While I disliked knowing that each dancer would eventually have a solo, I appreciated being able to focus on the character and strengths of each dancer, which weren’t immediately apparent in the group work. Finally, the brief tableau with the bear was an interesting and welcome escape from the rest of the piece, and I personally would have loved to see it explored further.

The evening’s two works made for an enjoyable double bill. Clark’s Amstatten was a quick sketch of the complexity of restriction and the performer’s psyche, and was crafted and performed with great care. Clinkard’s Ordinary Courage was predictable but well rounded, with a huge selection of choreography and ideas that showed the individuality of each dance artist. Overall, the night was a success for the Greenwich Dance and Trinity Laban partnership, and we’ll see what they bring to the stage next.