TELLING TALES-GDIF 2018

THEATRE/PERFORMANCE 

This showcase of street theatre (staged over the course of two weekends, the first in Greenwich with the stunning backdrop of the Cutty Sark and the Old Royal Naval College, the second amongst the concrete canyons of Canary Wharf) continues to be one of my most anticipated events of the year, never failing to ignite my senses. Although this year collectively the pieces didn’t register as strongly in either narrative or artistic content, the overall skill of the performers remains peerless, and there were plenty of highlights. The consummate act of this year’s programme was the Finnish trio Race Horse Company, whose Motosikai is a marvel of acrobatic clowning that builds thrillingly to ever-more outrageous and jaw-dropping antics, utilising such props as axes, bowling balls, skis and stone planks, as well as being a complex of potentially dangerous feats of tumbling and jumping, in which the physical boundaries of the performers’ bodies are pushed to the limit. Sorriso, a sweet, wistful, beautifully costumed tale of a love transcending the grave, performed on stilts (which grants movement an apropos otherworld quality) squanders much of its poignancy on ill-advised audience participation which detracts from the essential intimacy of the central couple. La Belle Escabelle is a lighthearted bit of choreography between two men and a series of stepladders, each move one of escalating intricacy and daring that eventually challenges the core strength of one performer in a climactic, bravura sequence.

Canary Wharf offered more traditional dance, the pinnacle of which was Nomadis, featuring a sinuously hypnotic fluency of movement between its two performers, in flawless sync with one another, two strangers drawn magnetically into the other’s orbit. Bolero stressed the strain and intensity of the central couple’s exertions, the physical exhaustion and grave focus, the grind and demand. Consequencies, with its manic motion, dancers colliding and falling-and occasionally walking over one another-jovially explored being out of step. Gibbon’s dancer/juggler duo suffered a bit in the afternoon heat, sweaty hands defeating precision, but their good nature and easy camaraderie softened the imperfection, and they were able to create moments of poetic movement despite setback (the heightened ambition of many of the manoeuvres is so mind-boggling that achievement of even half of them is still impressive). 

Even the works that are not entirely successful will most likely offer a memorable moment or image-such is the breadth of what is on view. Bring on next year!

Please visit my Instagram account for video footage from the event-still images, of course, can’t quite provide the proper perspective.

https://festival.org/gdif-2018/whats-on/

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