Where Tom Dale stands out, though, is in ensuring that dance is never subservient to the technological devices employed, no matter how intricate and eye-filling they may be.
And that they are. In its new incarnation SURGE, the first piece of Tom Dale Dance Company’s new double bill currently touring the UK, relies on artist and digital projection specialist Barret Hodgson’s designs to create a digital counterpart to its human dancer, the utterly compelling Jemima Brown.
Jemima Brown in Tom Dale's SURGE. Photo: Alice Underwood
Bedded on specially commissioned electronic music by Ital Tek, SURGE features a human of the future who exists on the bridge between the digital and organic worlds, gradually and inexorably being drawn into the former. It’s an ever more intimate duet between human and increasingly powerful digital worlds.
Shafts of light, which morph into sheets of light before dissolving into kaleidoscopic swirls create ever-shifting, ever more frantic patterns.To start, six white hexagons form a space at the centre of which stands white-clad Jemima Brown (costume by Geraldine Wharrey, Cristiano Casimir and Kate Morgan).
She sings, her slight voice and mostly indistinct words adding to a wistful and eerie atmosphere in what’s a little like a prologue designed to set the mood.
Divested of her microphone and battery pack, Brown now begins to dance. Her closely cropped platinum hair compounds a gamine, androgynous look, which gives her character a universal quality.
At first fully human, her earthbound, elastic movement gradually begins to acquire robotic elements, as her engagement with her immersive digital world becomes ever more intimate until she looks a little like a malfunctioning android. She returns to sing, this time words like ‘sense’, ‘feel’ and ‘exist’ sounding out like unanswered questions.
The second piece, SUB:VERSION, brings a change of mood.
Meghan Stevens, Tom O'Gorman, Jemima Brown and Dan Baines in Tom Dale's SUB:VERSION, Photo: Alice Underwood
It’s a selection of 10 dances, set to a multi-genre score taken from WEN’s album EPHEM:ERA. Its aim is simply to demonstrate Tom Dale’s conviction that, 'there has been no greater contributing factor to the evolution of dance over the last 25 years than the emergence of electronic dance music.'
Jemima Brown is joined by Dan Baines, Tom O’Gorman and Meghan Stevens on a stage where Andrew Ellis’s lighting design, relying on constantly shifting pools and planes of light creates subtly different settings for dance genres the blend into each other.
Solos evolve into group dances. A duet between Jemima Brown and Dan Baines is almost ballet on steroids; elsewhere the dancers launch into a perfectly synchronised disco jam.
Deliberately stripped of the philosophical questioning that permeates SURGE, SUB:VERSION is a celebration of dance itself, deceptively simple but meticulously assembled and performed by a group of dancers perfectly attuned to Tom Dale's vision.
SURGE was adapted into a short film for the BBC TV series ‘Dance Passion’ . You can find it here.
Tom Dale Dance Company's UK tour of SURGE/SUB:VERSION continues until Tuesday 2 May. Details here.
|What||Tom Dale Company, SURGE/SUB:VERSION review|
|Where||The Place, 17 Duke's Road, London, WC1H 9PY | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Euston (underground)|
On 21 Mar 23, 19:30 Dur.: 1 hour 15 mins inc one interval
|Price||£17 (concessions £14)|
|Website||Click here to book|