Resolution! is The Place’s annual platform for new dance work, this year featuring 81 pieces presented in triple bills between now and 15 February.

Francis Western-Smith
Francis Western-Smith

Jacob Hobbs opened Resolution! 2013 in a spacesuit and helmet with silvery tubes coiling in and out at the back of his head. This is Hallo Spaceboy – Tom is an astronaut. He’s running out of air.

Music is integral to the piece, as Hobbs builds his own soundscapes and layered harmonies with a microphone and loop pedal. Guitar accompaniment is provided by Benjamin Wall, seated at the side of the stage playing solitaire to pass the time between songs. Wall’s presence works well as a counterpoint to the spaceman, alone in orbit popping pills and trying to make the most of the air he has left.

At one point Hobbs makes an announcement, like Snug the joiner in A Midsummer Night’s Dream telling the audience not to be afraid of the lion: “It’s OK, because I’m not really in a spaceship.” Sometimes Hobbs is Tom, and sometimes he’s telling us about Tom, at one point calling on the audience to imagine the beautiful dance solo he was unable to make (after all, if you can imagine a spaceship then you can imagine a man dancing). Pointing downstage, he describes Tom “getting up off the floor really slowly like some kind of emotionally unstable mentally bothered plant”, something most of the audience can picture very easily – and an image which will doubtless grace this stage again over the next few weeks.

Completed by Hollie Miller’s wonderful costumes, Hallo Spaceboy was a very strong start to the season.

I am Wolf was choreographed and performed by Francesca Roche and Tomos Young. The two dancers entered from the back of the seating, gazing into the eyes of the people they passed as images of weaponry and disaster were projected on to the screen upstage. As the duet began and continued into contact work, the stream of images was interrupted by video of two faces – one recounting a Native American folktale about the “two wolves in all of us” and one urging the audience to “take steps to contain these dangerous creatures”.

Roche and Young are strong dancers and moved fluidly through lifts and floor work, but the connection between the folktale, the choreography and the gradual shrinking of the performance space was not clear. The quality of the projected images was inconsistent, particularly the final sequence which was moved through very quickly so the difference in resolution between photos was more noticeable. The closing line of text is potentially powerful but the elements of the piece seemed disjointed.

In The Fear Factor, choreographer Cody Choi has considered zombies and the dilemmas they might present. During the course of the piece we see six young women running from something unseen, trying to stay together and gradually transforming into the staggering, clawing undead. The programme describes an exploration of the effects of fear on people, and the decisions we make in a crisis.

The strongest moments were the group dance sequences, which were sharp and dynamic although the unison was occasionally a little messy. Images such as the contrast between a “living”, moving body and several inert, rigid “dead” ones, were clear and effective; and the deep red cyclorama with silhouettes projected onto it created some lovely fractured shadows, severing limbs and bodies.

Part of the Resolution! experience is not knowing what’s coming next, trying to anticipate each piece using the minimal information in the programme. It’s unlikely you will love every piece in any triple bill, but you might see something very special.

***11