In C: careful, contained, controlled

In C in performance. Photo credit: John Hogg.

Although In C is part of a double bill with Doda by Musa Hlatshwayo, the two works are so disparate, I decided they couldn’t be reviewed together. So, below, In C. (Doda, here.)

In C, choreographed by Louise Coetzer, falls within the school of neoclassical dance and whilst I’m personally not the greatest fan, I can appreciate the form, in the same way I can appreciate Monet’s landscapes although my preference is Escher’s optical illusion prints.

In C has five dancers – enviable in technical dexterity – who shift between duets, trios, and disrupt their unison which recurrently they break out of and join again. It’s quite simple: the dancers execute the choreography perfectly. Their technique is their talent.

The lines are crisp, all interactions are clean cut, and the performers exercise superior control over every move. But what that means is that even in a backwards head roll or a speedy arm spin – there is zero release.

It is interesting that the programme note states, “[e]ven though In C appears fixed, the decisions, responses, and interplay between the musicians and dancers, shapes its outcome, making each performance unique”. That might be the case but it didn’t read clearly enough.

Conceptually, the idea of reimagining Terry Riley’s minimalist (and in the 60s, revolutionary) composition is interesting. Structured improvisation. It can be exciting. But in In C, I felt like there was no ‘next’. It began and ended on the same plane; we weren’t taken anywhere. Yes, the minimalist piece of music as the work’s source probably dictated the rhythm and energy of the work – but I was left with the feeling that the deadpan performances were somewhat neck-down. Not all the way through, mind you, but it’s the overriding sense I left with.

In C is polished and a masterclass in perfect dance technique. But if the concept is meant to involve “moments of connect and disconnect”… we are left wanting some connection.

Production credits:
Choreographer: Louise Coetzer
Company: Darkroom Contemporary
Dancers: Llewellyn Afrika, Cilna Katzke, Lee Kotze, Joy Millar, Kayla Schultze
Costumes: Henri
Music: In C for two laptops by Without Eyes (arrangement by Mark van Niekerk & Dean Henning. Original composition by Terry Riley)
Photographer: Oscar O’Ryan

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