Introducing one of our volunteer dance reviewers, Jodie Stapleton:
I graduated from the University of Chichester with a BA (Hons) in Dance in 2013. Since then I have spent time travelling South East Asia, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and South America. I am now back in Devon hoping to carry on developing my own education in Dance and complete my teacher training next year.
Review of Crystal Zillwood and House of Strays
by Jodie Stapleton
Friday 13 April 2018 at Talaton Village Hall, Supported by Villages in Action.
We found ourselves perched in an intimate, small space, in a Parish hall in the heart of Devon. The audience buzzed around us with chatter from the village, for many of whom this was a first experience to see Contemporary dance in such a setting. A difficult audience some people might say, but these performers took the challenge and conquered their imaginations.
Crystal Zillwood, a soloist, performed three pieces under the umbrella name of ‘Spirals’. Her first piece ‘Sleep’ delved into the sensations of the sleep cycle from small twitches to a dreamy state to the battle of fighting with your mind to relax. Her second piece ‘These Hands’ focused on the everyday lives of farmers in Devon. The soundtrack relayed real life stories, the sounds of men and women working and their experiences from rural life. She played with distorted everyday gestures, the idea of repeated routines and rhythms of machinery to create a piece which was relatable in many ways to us in the audience. Her third and final piece ‘Evolutio’ portrayed images of life within the haze of evolution and where it all began. A particular part in the solo showed her twirling in circles creating many gestures of developing weaponry from bows and arrows to guns. The purpose of the gestures changing all the time as the world goes on around us. All three solos required improvisation to play within the boundaries she had set herself but all of them were intricate investigations of everyday ideas.
House of Strays performed three pieces as an ensemble. They created live soundtracks in the performance space, mostly layering sounds and voices over each other creating a really diverse dialogue for the dancer. There first piece ‘canal’ explored birth. The only light source in the room was a torch, held by the dancer as she gradually worked her way across the stage in a single journey to life beyond. The movements focused on her internal and external motion, the light creating shadows and a strobe effect at times as she investigated the small bubble around her. The second piece ‘The moon’ was based on the quote ‘I shall never rest again for if I do who shall bring me the moon’. It resonated with many as the dancer skipped with a skipping rope for a solid 4 minutes in hope of never giving up hope and reaching her goal. The soundtrack was created by a male singer and left a haunting impact in the space, as the dancer was left alone in the realisation of knowing she may have to give up. The ensembles third piece ‘Fragility’ was the first duet of the evening. The piece studied touch, response and the weight of connection. One dancer kept her eyes closed allowing the other to control her movement simply by touch, like a feather on the wind.
The evening was a fluid investigation of many themes and ideas, all of which kept us engaged. You can catch them again in Devon next year performing for Villages in Action as part of the Carn to Cove menu.