The city and its rhythms inspired two upcoming dancer-choreographers in "Urban Templates", a double bill of contemporary dance programmes that was staged at Creative Industries last weekend.
In Fractals, Thai dancer-choreographer Navinda "Lordfai" Pachimsawat Vadtanakovint places three dancers (James Batchelor, Amber McCartney and herself) in confining triangular structures that grow smaller and smaller as the dance progresses. The movements start off fluid and organic and become increasingly angular and mechanical.
The concept of the piece as described by Lordfai in the programme sounds hackneyed: "[Fractals] explores the standardised and repetitive patterns in human behaviour, within the safe zone of social norms that we ourselves have created." However, Lordfai proves she is a choreographer with a keen sense for space and visual designs. The dancers, dressed in all white to match the set, pull white strings out of poles and tie them to hooks on the floors to create their own insular worlds — ultimately their own prisons.
The choreography and the dancing are sufficient for such a thin concept and it may be that the installation overshadowed the dance somewhat. Nonetheless, Lordfai has created a visually striking piece, being anything but boring.
Like Fractals, James Batchelor's Metasystems: Multiplication also plays with concepts such as repetition and even more strikingly, architecture. The performer-choreographer began working on Metasystems in 2014. The project has since become a series of short dance pieces based on Batchelor's observation of construction sites in urban areas.
As robotic and repetitive as it is, Metasystems is captivating to watch. The eight dancers, dressed in grey construction-worker uniforms, work with over 500 bricks and create formations on the floor. The action is all at once a constantly evolving installation with a percussion instrument that underscores the piece.
As four dancers stack and rearrange the bricks, the other four navigate around the concrete landscape which never stops transforming. The moving final image turns these efficient, synchronised bodies into human beings who seek refuge. They gently push the bricks aside to make room to lie down and fall asleep.
Ending, one realises that with all the construction undertaken, there is so little room left for these people in the city.