‘Declarations’ is a treat of contemporary dance as filling as a four course meal. The starter, a piquant passionate political routine under the tones of Mozart’s Requiem and design directions of Warren Adam, screamed hope with a bitter-sweet taste. ’The Audacious One’ dance’s exciting choreography and yuppie costumed dancers narrated a modern story about power which, despite its predictive storyline, was sodden with drama.
The second dish, a restless Gothic story about a woman and two men, was a classic from Phoenix’s repertoire, choreographed for the first time by Philip Taylor in 1985. Obsessive, ravishing and deeply emotional pre-slumber walk between the real and imaginary, dispersed with haunted images that randomly rush through our minds before falling asleep, ‘Haunted Passages’ does make a turn and move to bits with its dramatic and tense delivery and refined to perfection movements. In it, every single emotion was performed with stunning precision and dancing eloquence.
The main dish, a stylish avant-garde piece, ‘Locked in Vertical’, is the first work of the acclaimed choreographer Isira Makuloluwe to debut in the UK a year ago. The plastic fluidity of coiling bodies struck with its high technicality. I wondered if it was possible to remember all the complex movements whose abundance my untrained eye hardly followed. The repetitive rotating and twisting of bodies left me saturated to the brink of a slight dizziness.
The dessert had the sticky title ‘Maybe Yes Maybe, Maybe No Maybe’, which was a young but extraordinary blend of rhythms and dance. The witty exploration of voice and dance movements with the whimsical aftertaste of voice transformations into beats and accents of a pulsing soundtrack is the sterling choreography of Aletta Collins. The audience found it theatrical, playful and highly entertaining.
Phoenix Dance Company was formed in 1981 by David Hamilton (Artistic Director), Donald Edwards and Vilmore James, three young men who had their enthusiasm for dance. They were not simply talented but had a fresh approach to contemporary dance which won them a name beyond their home city of Leeds.
Current artistic director Sharon Watson (since 2009) has brought in a lot of inspiration and creative boldness. For its 30 year history, Phoenix Dance Theatre has grown into one of the leading British contemporary dance groups, aiming at performing in front of the widest possible audiences. The company has its distinctive character and innovative style of performance which apart from talent offers good time.