The show’s mission statement, as described in Tom Dale’s programme notes, was 'to explore the hidden sound potential in a dancer’s movement', and thereby to create 'a new live form of dance music'.
The show is divided into two parts. In Part 1, three dancers come together in an amplified environment. All the sounds they make – the impact of their feet and bodies on the floor, their breath, their voices – are captured by shotgun microphones, custom-made instruments, plate reverbs and amplified boxes.
These sounds are sampled and amplified live by the composer Jo Wills and, through this process, the dancers themselves become simultaneously dancers and musicians.
The dancers of the Tom Dale Company – Jemima Brown, Rose Sall Sao and Juan Sánchez Plaza – are the perfect vehicles for Dale’s experimentation. As they stamp and glide on the raised platform centre-stage, they produce ever more intricate combinations of sounds that range from percussive thumps to whooshing notes.
Their choreography is a hard-to-define blend of genres, at times taking in mystic yoga poses, at others assuming the broken gestures of break-dancing in a flurry of unbroken movement.
At one point they all sit down-stage and start to chant ‘can you trust in me?’ in a monotonous, mantra-like intonation. That chant, too, is processed and synthesised along with the music their bodies made before, and in the final sequence of Step Dance this new score enters into a rich dialogue with their dancing.
Part 2 is made up of three short solo works, the most interesting of which is, without doubt, Eleesha Drennan’s Resonance of Air, which is inspired by bat echolocation.
Dancer Rose Sall Sao performs a nervy, haunted choreography, responding to the clicks of echolocation, sensing her own space through sound.
The middle piece, Escape, by choreographer Jamaal Burkmar, is so inconsequential as to be entirely baffling. In it dancer Juan Sánchez Plaza mostly whirls around to no discernible end; but the piece has the major plus of being set to a superb Janelle Monae song, BaBopByeYa.
Purpose is restored with the last work of the evening, Tom Dale’s Surge, danced by the mesmerising Jemima Brown. It opens with a dazzling optical effect, where shafts of light projected from intense spotlights combine with smoke to create moving planes, like ineffable translucent walls. Slowly, Jemima Brown is revealed, her slight, intense body bending and twisting in an increasingly frenzied contemporary dance, that responds to the acceleration of life brought about by new digital technologies.
Age Guidance: 12+
|What||Tom Dale Company, Step Sonic review|
|Where||The Place, 17 Duke's Road, London, WC1H 9PY | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Euston (underground)|
On 14 Nov 19, 19: 30 Dur.: 1hour 55 mins inc one interval
|Price||£17 (concessions £13)|
|Website||Click here to book|