Verdict: Highly Recommended Show
Company: 201 Dance Company
‘Can you stay true to yourself, when everything suggests you change? 201’s raw, contemporary hip-hop returns in Smother: a story of two men’s broken encounter. After sell-out performances in New York and London, this groundbreaking production touches on themes of addiction, obsession, and the meaning of commitment. Choreographer Andrea Walker directs a cast of seven dancers in a fast-paced, intimate performance, exploring the relationship of two young men.’
This remarkable piece of work from 201 Dance Company ambitiously seeks to “present a gay experience through an urban dance aesthetic”. The muted colours of their costumes against the plain black backdrop works well with the earthy movements and dirty beats of the hip-hop soundtrack, though while the choreography by Andrea Walker is beautifully done, an even grittier choreography would have deepened the performance somewhat and created a more interesting show. There are flashes of real emotion which is brilliant to watch, however it is not sustained and I found myself wanting more to come through from the performances.
Walker is amazing to watch and captures attention easily with the gracefulness of his movements, while Luigi Ambrosio is perhaps the most in tune to the urban beats. Alex Walker provides incredible strength and grace through her movements, however it is Michaela Cisarikova who exudes the most heart through her dancing. All are very competent dancers but genuine heart and soul is perhaps what is lacking to pull it all together.
The lighting creates the dark, gritty atmosphere that remains constant while the incredible soundtrack is at times powerful, at other points haunting and helps create a modern setting for a modern scenario. The club scene is a very real depiction of modern life, the highs of it spiraling down into the lows of reality. Pain, loss, and desperation are conveyed, particularly from Cisarikova, and I would have liked to have seen more rawness from each of them to really push the depth of feeling into the audience. The decision to have homosexuality as a theme is excellent, for all equality continues to bound forward there is still a lack of representation for a mass audiences, and shows such as Smother – which include the LGBT theme without agenda – what we need more of.
All of the elements for an incredible show are there, yet there is a lack of depth to the performance overall that prevents Smother from being more than just an entertaining dance piece. It’s a joy to watch and I will definitely be watching out for 201 Dance company as they have potential to become something magnificent.