Completing the programme are Lamentation, by Martha Graham, with whom Robert Cohan studied, and Sea of Troubles, a rarely seen experimental chamber work by Kenneth MacMillan.
Martha Graham’s 1930 Lamentation encapsulates her pioneering view of dance as an expression of raw feeling. Set to music by the Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály, Lamentation, performed by Yolande Yorke-Edgell, sees the dancer encased in a tube of purple jersey sitting on a bench facing us, legs held wide, her ample skirt forming a trapezoid base from which her torso rises. All her movements come from head and torso and express visceral grief. It’s five minutes long and remains hugely affecting.
Next comes MacMillan’s Sea of Troubles. Created in 1988 for a small dance ensemble, it is an intense, episodic work, that distils the story of Hamlet into a succession of short, ever more fraught scenes. Set to music by Webern and Martinů, its starting point is the death of Hamlet’s father. It uses expressionistic language to explore MacMillan’s recurring concerns about betrayal, guilt and death. Its main characters – Hamlet, the ghost of his father, his mother and stepfather, Ophelia and Polonius – eventually blend into each other as Hamlet is beset by harrowing hallucinations.
In November 2019 Robert Cohan started work on a series of solos, which he called Afternoon Conversations with Dancers. When the pandemic intervened, he finished the work by Zoom. The result is a vibrant and fresh sequence of short dances, set to music by Nils Frahm and Ólafur Arnalds. They range from an almost mystical slow piece of liquid movement, to an energetic dance punctuated by the dancer’s own deliberately audible breath; from a Martha Graham inspired dance for a woman in a long red satin dress, to a piece danced on pointe (pictured top) which references classical ballet but transcends it.
In So It Is, Yorke-Edgell recaptures the feeling of meeting and working with Cohan in two harmonious duets for herself and the tall, elegant Edd Mitton. They’re infused with trust and longing, and bookend a sequence of varied dances for members of the company symbolising their work together and Cohan’s rich legacy. The piece is set to music by Nathaniel Dett and Nicola Propora.
It remains to say that Yorke Dance Project's eight dancers offered us performances of the highest calibre.
Yorke Dance Project brings two programmes to the Linbury: Past Present, Friday 12 - Sunday 14 November
and Connecting to Cohan, a special performance on Monday 15 November celebrating the choreographer, who died earlier this year.
|What||Review: Yorke Dance Project, Past Present|
|Where||Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
12 Nov 21 – 15 Nov 21, 19:45. Sun at 15:00. Dur.: 2 hours approx inc one interval
|Website||Click here to book|