Footprint Dance Festival
University of Roehampton
Tuesday 12th May 2015
Opening Tuesday's evening of Dance Worldwide at Michaelis Theatre was Roehampton alumni Shaun Dillon's moving solo Hiraeth. Exploring themes of homesickness, grief, nostalgia and aggression, Hiraeth is a brutally honest examination of Dillon's childhood.
The stage begins dark, with Dillon sitting cross legged in silence. Glinting behind him, shattered plates are strewed roughly in a semi-circle centre-stage right. A large black duffel bag lies in the shadow downstage right- literally, personal baggage. Dillon performs a series of gestures, slowly pointing to the sky and then to his heart, opening his hands, bring his hand to a salute, and finally thumping his chest with an increasing sense of aggression.
The tone of the work intensifies as the sound of children's whispers fills the auditorium. Dillon sifts through the shattered plates, as if looking for some kid of meaning or explanation. Composer Jonny Colgan's music score escalates as Dillon turns to face his shadow on the cyc. He thrashes, punches, kicks and paces, sweeping his arms in rage, as if arguing with his shadow.
The music quietens, leaving Dillon standing under a spot light, staring thoughtfully into the audience. A prerecorded speech reveals the dark story of his 13th birthday. He describes a vehement argument between his parents, only to be interrupted by a deafening scream. It is at this point that it becomes undoubtedly clear that Hiraeth is a stark insight into Dillon's childhood.
Suddenly, the clatter of broken china is heard as Dillon stumbles trying to reassemble the broken plates. The desperation and urgency in Dillon's actions appear child-like, yet also seem to have a certain familiarity as if he has tried desperately to grapple with these feelings for years.
Finally, Dillon collects his black duffel bag from the front of the stage. Flinging the weight of the bag over his shoulder, Dillon walks slowly offstage, with a hopeful look of belief across his face.