Tuesday, 12 May 2015


Footprint Dance Festival
Michaelis Theatre
University of Roehampton
Monday 11th May 2015

After graduating from the Northern School of Contemporary Dance and touring the UK and Switzerland with postgraduate dance company Verve'13, Crystal Zillwood has developed her unique choreographic, improvisation and teaching techniques.

At University of Roehampton's Footprint Dance Festival opening performance night, Zillwood performed Évolutio, an exploration of human evolution. Set to Goran Bregovic's moving score, Zillwood begins standing in front of a bright floor light. References to primate movement is evident from the outset. Zillwood walks, poised, gradually slouching further into her hips, before inverting onto all fours.

She shifts around with ease, padding her hands and feet into the floor. The work begins slowly, Zillwood moves carefully and deliberately. She slips smoothly from being stood tall and poised, to suddenly breaking, becoming inverted and grounded. Overall, Zillwood stays well connected to the floor, her weight surrendered to gravity. She rolls, slides and twists across the space with a sense of indulgence. But most notably, Zillwood's strength is the fluidity and seamlessness of her movement phrases, which exude a quality of soft, melted butter.

Well observed gestural details, like scratching, wiping, grooming, cycling legs and brushing appear throughout Évolutio. Towards the conclusion of the work, Zillwood is seen rotating on the floor repeating a series of discernible gestures. She mimes cooking, playing archery, conducting music, before holding out her hands as finger guns. She rebounds, bouncing slightly, as her rotation seems to get stuck, with her hands held out rigidly. Suddenly, the child-like familiarity of the finger gun gesture becomes bittersweet, as if Zillwood alluding to the brutal and callous capacity of humans.

Overall, Évolutio is an exceptionally honest and frank exploration of human evolution and of human nature. Intensified by Zillwood's effortlessly unbroken movement quality, her communication of themes and ideas is admirable. Finally as the lights dim, Zillwood crawls back to end in the fetal position, reminding us that we are indeed "only human".

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