Suse Tietjen, Lucy Palmer Dance, Ishaan De Banya and Kenny Wing Tao Ho end the first week of Resolution! 14 with a huge following of fans in the audience. The Place have been running their Resolution! festival of performance by young upcoming choreographers for 25 years. Since 1990, hundreds of choreographers have graced the stage with unknown works that have never been seen before. Some huge names began here: Russell Maliphant and Hofesh Shechter showcased works here in 1992 and 2004 respectively.

The choreographers here in 2014 have a lot to live up to, yet – regardless of where they end up in future – they become part of a strong dance community, who show their support by turning up to watch. The audience includes friends and family of the dancers and choreographers, who huddle over the programme looking for the names of their friends, and more established professionals – like Richard Alston – can be spotted in the audience. The festival is a marvellous social occasion, offering a supportive, creative atmosphere for the performers and choreographers alike. This is the place to be for young artists, tonight and all month, every year.

Suse Tietjen: Brother of Sleep © Eulanda Shead
Suse Tietjen: Brother of Sleep
© Eulanda Shead
Before the performances begin Eddie Nixon, director of The Place, asks the audience to take the Resolution! pledge. We all raise our right hands and repeat: “I do solemnly swear that if during tonight’s performance my neighbour uses or even thinks about using their mobile I will politely ask them to stop.” What a great way to foster respect for the dancers on stage.

Suse Tietjen’s Brother of Sleep follows the story of a boy who has resolved never to sleep again. Eight dancers fly up from the floor explosively and collapse into sleep. The group quickly singles out a lone boy and encircles him as he writhes and twitches centre stage. His head falls forward into his hands and he jerks awake, unable to relax into slumber as others do. He snatches at the air with relentless, frantic energy, and is plucked from the ground by another dancer. Each dancer falls and is caught, wrenched back from the stupor of sleep, and righted by the other. Brother of Sleep is set to a powerful piece of music of the same name by Gareth Moorcraft, played live on stage, which accompanies the dance with an appropriately haunting – and at times shrill and jolting – sound. This work explored some interesting ideas, and could go far with some refinement. 

Lucy Palmer Dance: Scratch Mark © Tristian Parkes
Lucy Palmer Dance: Scratch Mark
© Tristian Parkes
Scratch Mark by Lucy Palmer Dance opens with a lone, faux-nude dancer in a rectangle of light, attacking herself. Her quick, harsh movements jab at and constrain her body and convey her extreme self-loathing. Throughout the piece, six female dancers attack, pushing one another with aggressive touches, and retreat into their own enclosed, personal spaces. They move at high speed, flinging their bodies full-force across the stage as if intending harm upon themselves. The six dancers form a line across the stage, each absorbed in her own frantic movements. One by one they let their emotional scars drop away, relax, stand tall and almost float off stage. One lone dancer is left alone, frantic, desperate, and unable to relax. Her tense movements increase in speed and her harsh breath pierces the space as the lights fade to black. This striking performance by Lucy Palmer Dance Company is intensified by Jules Shapter’s lighting design and music. The piece was highly engaging – Lucy Palmer has the potential to become the next big name featured on the walls of The Place.

Ihsaan De Banya (Richard Alston Dance Company) and Kenny Wing Tao Ho (Protein Dance) begin Casting Shadows standing face to face, holding hands in stillness. They pass a few minutes like this and we hear them breathe together, finding a common rhythm deep within their bodies. The audience begins to get restless. Abruptly, one hand darts out and grabs the other’s face, then is gently pushed away. Hands fly to their partner’s hips and shoulders, and the pair retain eye-contact as they build a physical connection, initiating a joint exploration of movement language. They seem constantly aware of one another, mirroring and copying movements. De Banya stands over Wing Tao Ho as he moves horizontally across the stage. Slowly a connection develops between their feet and it’s as though Wing Tao Ho has become De Banya’s shadow, moving in unison at a 90-degree angle. A cyclical duet comes to a head centre stage as the pair spar head to head, and eventually establish an equilibrium, moving as one. Throughout Casting Shadows I was fascinated to see the slight differences between the two bodies as they perform the same movements – no doubt this gap will narrow as the pair further develop their common movement language. This budding relationship between two young choreographers could prove very fruitful.

The Resolution! festival at The Place provides a unique opportunity for young, upcoming choreographers and dancers to establish themselves as part of the creative community in London. All three of these choreographers show great potential for successful futures in dance.