HOT Press Reviews

Conversation Piece – The Scotsman – ****

Conversation Piece – The Herald – ****

Dual – Exeunt – ****

Shifting Ground – The Scotsman ****

Shifting Ground/Robin Fox RGB – The Herald

Pin Drop – The Herald ****


Dance review: Conversation Piece


Published on the 14 June 2014

Conversation Piece – Tramway, Glasgow


DANCERS are known for letting their bodies, not their mouths, do the talking. Yet for the first eight minutes of Conversation Piece, this truism is completely reversed.

Three dancers walk on stage, and the audience plays voyeur to a friendly chat between friends. The topics are banal yet frequently witty: skin rashes, excess hair, when it’s acceptable to tell a new friend they’ve got something on their teeth – and the lovelife of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, to name but some. All this is discussed and laughed over as if we weren’t there. Crucially, their seemingly unimportant banter is recorded on the iPhones all three are holding.

When the dancers are joined by three actors, we start to realise the relevance – and enormous cleverness – of what just took place. For the next 60 minutes, the conversation which opened the show becomes, in effect, the script.

Having taken the dancers’ iPhones, the actors listen back to the recorded words through headphones, and repeat them out loud. Later, one turns them into an improvised phone conversation we’re only privy to one side of.

And so it goes on – this fascinating re-hashing of triviality about celebrity marriages and hairy shoulders – with occasional bursts of razor-sharp movement, perfectly executed.

Australian choreographer Lucy Guerin created the structure and moves and asks pertinent unspoken questions about technology’s capacity to connect and isolate in equal measure.

But from that starting point, copious praise must be heaped on the six performers, who, miraculously, create a brand new show for every performance.

Seen on 12.06.14


Conversation Piece

Tramway, Glasgow

by Mary Brennan

Published: Monday 16 June 2014


THE initial conversation – a light-hearted, chummy exchange between three dancers – had been flagged up as unscripted, spur of the moment.

The two men and one woman joked about skin rashes, body hair, celebrity gossip and Gwyneth Paltrow’s blog – the stuff of inconsequential chit-chat. But their eight minute conversation is being recorded live on iPhones, and when the phones are passed over to three actors, the words become a script they have to deliver. This is when Australian choreographer/director Lucy Guerin begins to prise open her can of worms, allowing all kinds of shrewd observations and chewy questions about how we communicate with others to squirm to the breezily entertaining surface.

In part, it’s a foray into how taking words out of their original context – altering tone of voice, punctuation, emphasis – can be like a game of Chinese Whispers, with the misrepresentations running the gamut from the amusingly silly to the oddly menacing. But even as you’re being led by the ears, the dancers – again, courtesy of their phones – have called up music to dance to, and your eye is invited to make sense of their body language.

Movement as an immediate form of communication is then put to the test when actors and dancers start to interact competitively, and a degree of face-to-face confrontation flares with a tension beyond any available phone app.

Connecting via mobile technology, it seems, isn’t the whole story when it comes to communicating and Guerin’s Conversation Piece, brilliantly performed by a quick-witted, nimble sextet, is a wry reflection on how these phones allow us to keep other human beings at arms length. A wickedly clever start to Tramway’s HOT season.

DUAL at Tramway

by Lorna Irvine

Published: 15 June 2014


The second piece in Tramway’s HOT: New Dance and Performance From Australia season is a fragmented conundrum in three parts, choreographed by Stephanie Lake. A man and a woman dance solos, then together, and the routines blur and merge.The third “character” in the routine is Robin Fox’s jarring soundscape, which is a militant kind of techno, fading into acoustic guitar, then crackles, hisses, shrill frequencies and low drones.

Alisdair Mcindoe, clad in baggy neutral colours, twitches, spasms and crashes to the floor.

At times he seems almost boneless, his hands fluttering of their own free will, unconnected to any brain signals. Occasionally though, a sharp hip-hop movement or balletic glide and twirl will emerge like a mutation beyond his control. He is never still, always a restless soul, shifting and exploratory.

Sara Black’s glassy-eyed stare belies a more fluid movement – at least initially- with graceful sweeping arm gestures. Clad in tight darker clothes, she seems even more robotic than Macindoe. However, soon she shares similar gesticulations and her expression softens.

Her movements in their repetition and imitation of the dancer before her seem like a kind of binary code, data scrolling endlessly down a screen.

The whole effect is hypnotic and disconcerting, and it is almost impossible not to shift uncomfortably or even jump in your seat as both the routine and music becomes increasingly layered and intense. It is impossible to second-guess all of the shapes, even though it is apparent they complement the individual solos. Questions of identity and structure are left hanging in the air.

For the third dance, the two, now clad in black and cream, face off at either side of the stage. The routine becomes simultaneously corporeal and machine-like – a battle of wills between robots imbued with consciousness. Macindoe catches Black and then pushes her down, but her leg sticks up in defiance like a reflex motion. The duo act like puppet masters, mirroring and animating each other, movements and whispering words becoming congruent – language only they can understand. There is a brutality here, and the sense that were you to reach into the guts of either dancer, tangled wires and circuit boards would spill out. Yet Black clings tenderly to Macindoe, as though they are the first (or last) people in a desolate planet, dependent on each other.

It could at times be perceived as a kind of bizarre mating ritual between human prototypes, or a violent struggle between sexual tension and physical dominance. Or perhaps Lake’s choreography is suggesting that the seeming incompatibilty of men and women is what sustains relationships: that the gender divide is ultimately unsolvable but worth pursuing nonetheless.

But in the main, it feels like a dystopian themed sci-fi, in the vein of Ray Bradbury novels (such as Fahrenheit 451) or the cinema of David Cronenberg (ExistenZ), where male and female desire has been commodified to the exclusion of all genuine emotional responses.

A thrilling, visceral dance, which may trouble your dream state for a while.

Shifting Ground

by Kirstin Innes, The Scotsman

Published: 21 June 2014

Achieving something much more human from equally wordless, tech-heavy production, Zoe Scoglio’s Shifting Ground seems at first to be a fairly typical, twee, twenty-something performance piece take on the Japanese tea ceremony – Scoglio herself welcomed the audience in with ginger tea and rock cakes, and asked them to pick a stone that fits in their hand from the pile in the corner. From the moment the lights went down, though, when Scoglio wriggled into an over-sized grey garment filled with tiny microphones that captured her every twist and breath, we were taken somewhere very different indeed.

Over the next 45 minutes, Scoglio became gardener, explorer, scientist, primeordial being, playful cat and tiny atom, in a piece that uses spectacular – and spectacularly simple – light projections and bass-heavy sound. Exploring the elemental nature of rock, in all its (mineral) forms, Shifting Ground takes us from minute experiments with light and pebbles on a table top to a huge, droning, vibrating projection which seems to gesture towards the infinite possibility of the Big Bang.

Mostly unspoken, apolitical, impersonal, and therefore at odds with contemporary performance trends over here, this is still a very emotional work; even in a small room, we were brought right up against our relative tininess in the universe. And it features a surprisingly moving climax, too, considering nothing happens but salt bouncing off the soundwaves on top of a speaker.

Seen on 18.06.14

Shifting Ground/Robin Fox RGB

By Mary Brennan, The Herald

Published: 19 June 2014

IT IS not just bodies that are moving in dynamic ways in this HOT season of new dance and performance from Australia. Media artist and performer Zoe Scoglio has ways of making solid stone come alive while Robin Fox’s Laser Show turns light into sound, sets colours dancing while their interaction throws animated patternings on a far wall.

Scoglio’s Shifting Ground starts with an affable welcome: a little glass of honey and ginger tea, wee edible rock cakes and invitation to pick up a stone – Tramway 4 has become a mini-grotto full of caringlyconstructed outcrops, or maybe shrines to the geology that Scoglio celebrates in this piece. At the far end of the space is what she calls “the living room”.

With coffee-table, sofa, pot plant, it all looks very domestic, but the “living” part is what happens when light, sound and projections come into play. Our own bones feel the thrumming vibrations that send particles shimmying across the table-top, but the most plangent reminder that our flesh and blood is grounded in mineral compounds is when the surface of a large stone suddenly melts (under screened images) into a craggy face that sings.

If Scoglio’s work sucks you into meditative contemplation, Robin Fox’s laser show – seen minutes later – is like a physical onslaught, shimmering between dazzling and brutal. Red, green and blue lasers slice through the darkness of Tramway 1, their pulsings translated into percussive punches that whammy the eardrums.

As the beams hit a wall, they morph into painterly fingertips that doodle spirals and zigzags or spatter splodges like an invisible Jackson Pollock wielding a light sabre. Afterwards, the sunlight seems reassuringly staid.


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