Footprint Dance Festival
University of Roehampton
Tuesday 12th May 2015
University of Roehampton alumni Alicia Kidman presented Omni Commeo at Footprint Dance Festival's second night of evening performances. Having recently graduated from University of Roehampton, Kidman has been teaching dance in London and Austria, as well as performing and presenting choreography in London, Birmingham and Italy with Martin Prosse and Cie. Willi Dorner.
Interestingly, as well as having shown an interest in phonology and phonetics (the study of sounds) through teaching English, both Kidman's parents are English teachers by trade. Perhaps this familial interest in language and sound inspired Kidman's quirky insight into language and communication.
Omni Commeo opens with a large paper bound Cambridge dictionary under a bright spot light. The lights dim and come back up to reveal dancer Emilie Barton standing on top of the dictionary, dressed in mismatching, clashing patterned tights, skirt and layered t-shirts. On the opposite side, sits dancer Sophie Stokes, also dressed eccentrically in bright golfing socks, grey leggings and bright layered shirts.
Barton begins in silence, furiously trying to speak. She crinkles her nose and furrows her brows as she concentrates on making sounds. She experiments with language using different sounds and tones, allowing her facial expressions to affect the sounds she produces. Later, Barton and Stokes are seen interacting together, using extremely intricate and complex hand gestures. They seem to construct, deconstruct, test, grab and argue over inanimate objects. Barton and Stokes are hugely animated, setting a playful tone that persists throughout the work.
All of a sudden, the dictionary becomes the focus of Barton's attention. After breaking free from Stoke's hold, Barton begins reading the dictionary. However, with their bare feet flicking the pages, it appears that the duo read the words using their feet. Another interesting and surprising detail that Kidman carefully uses to enhance her choreography.
The strength of the work likes in Barton's and Stoke's complete conviction in the vision of the work. There is not a single moment where either dancer questions their actions (or indeed their sounds). Kidman creates an exceptionally clever work that both draws the audience in from the outset and amuses.
The work ends with both dancers sitting upstage right at the back of the stage. After a brief fracas, Stokes tears a page out of the dictionary and thrusts it into her mouth. Barton watches her with an expression of astonishment, as Stokes opens her mouth, letting the chewed up ball of paper hit the floor.