Particle Velocity

Presented by Phoenix Dance Theatre
Tuesday 12th March 2013
Liverpool Playhouse

Reviewed by Kathryn Lamble

This March saw the return of Leeds based dance company, Phoenix Dance Theatre, to Liverpool’s Playhouse with their new mixed programme of works, Particle Velocity. Offering a mix of classical, traditional dance with their unique blend of forward thinking modernity, the troupe continue to prove they are a force to be reckoned with in the world of modern dance. Unafraid to tackle material never before conceived of in the dance, this year’s experimental mix largely paid off.

The starting piece was All Alight, by famed, veteran British choreographer Richard Alston, his first work for the company. This was a charming, pastoral piece danced in duos and groups. It’s gentle playfulness leant it an air of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, coupled with Ravels beautiful Sonata for Violin and Cello it provided a sophisticated and more traditional opening to the evening.

Second on the bill was Jose Agudo’s Ki. A solo piece, danced by the quite incredible Josh Wille, was inspired in part by the life of Genghis Khan. Set to an ethereal, electronic score by Italian composer Vinz with a stark stage lit only by a single spotlight, Ki was the programmes stand-out highlight, which the rest of the evening failed to match in terms of pure, visceral connection. With echoes of martial arts by way of Akram Khan, the piece managed to convey the chaos of a life lived but within the boundaries of modern dance. It was controlled, expertly handled and yet never overly cerebral, maintaining the sense of the fantastic and chaotic path of a young man growing into his destiny. A spectacular 10 minutes of dance.

Something of a break came with the third work of the evening, Douglas Thorpe’s Tender Crazy Love. Set to a Tarantino-worthy soundtrack of modern songs, it tells the turbulent and tumultuous story of two lovers bound by a mysterious and, at times, sinister desire. The frenetic and electric choreography was arresting and quite extraordinary but the energy did drop at times, leaving the slower moments feeling slightly indulgent. However, the piece did provide the evenings most visually arresting moment, a glorious canopy of red and white petals falling from above the stage on our troubled lovers.

The evening ended with Phoenix’s Artistic Director Sharon Watson’s Repetition of Change. Taking the complex and mysterious world of DNA as its inspiration, this is a multi-layered piece that scrutinises the very building blocks of life. It managed to preserve a sense of the organic, despite its scientific modus operandi, thanks in part to the swathes of fabric that form the set and costume design. However, the overall feeling of the piece is somewhat confused and loses itself in its inability to make a connection to its audience amidst the somewhat cold subject matter.

Phoenix continue to prove themselves as an ambitious British company, unafraid to traverse new and diverse landscapes in which to unleash their undeniable creativity. While this particular outing suffers a little in the second half, they still manage to seal themselves as serious contenders in the world of British modern dance. Always worth the time.

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