Thursday, 5 January 2017

REVIEW: #ThrowbackThursday to my FIRST ever review - Shaun Dillon's We Stand Alone Together 2012

As part of my series of interviews, reviews and general excitement in the run up to Dillon Dance's performance at Resolution 2017, I have decided to do a (rather embarrassing) #ThrowbackThursday to one of my first dance reviews. 

As part of my dance training at University of Roehampton, one of my first tasks was to review Shaun Dillon's We Stand Alone Together. At the time, the work had been devised by Shaun in one of his 3rd year choreography modules, and wasn't quite the polished tour de force it is now.

So, brace yourself, and hopefully we will see how far my reviewing skills have come along since 2012...

Happy Thursday! 

Shaun Dillon suggests that we are always strongest in unity in his choreography of We Stand Alone Together

We Stand Alone Together, choreographed by Shaun Dillon, explores ideas of strength and weakness. These concepts are embodied by the choreographer’s use of space, numerical variation and energy. Dillon’s work suggests that humans are most powerful in unity. In contradiction, the title of the work suggests it could be possible to find ourselves feeling isolated and weak even when we’re not alone.

The beginning of the work exemplifies Dillon’s use of contrast in spacing. Six dancers stand closely together in a clump, upstage left. The closeness of their bodies creates a sense of unity. A single dancer stands centre stage, closer to the audience, at a considerable distance from the group of six dancers. This causes the dancer to appear isolated in comparison to the larger group of dancers.  Consequently the audience are given the impression of vulnerability and weakness. Dillon’s ability to create the right amount of space between the dancers’ bodies is particularly important in emphasising the contrast between strength and weakness.

The use of numerical variation is apparent towards the middle of the work. Three pairs of dancers are seen upstage right struggling to move horizontally across the space. In each pair, one dancer is bent over, throwing her arms forward desperately whilst the dancer behind pulls her back, by clutching onto her stomach. The sheer number of dancers, performing this movement results in a chaotic frenzy of arms and legs kicking and reaching across the space. This creates a scene of desperation and manipulation for the audience. Although there are many dancers performing the material in unison, it is apparent that one dancer in each pair is considerably weaker than the other. The idea of a power struggle proves that we can feel isolated even when we’re in unity.

In addition, Dillon’s use of energy helps highlight his idea of strength in unity. A phrase performed and repeated by a large group of dancers exemplifies this. The group of dancers throw their arms powerfully in front of their bodies in an ‘X’ shape and stamp their feet with strong, forceful dynamics. The repetition of this power helps emphasise the strength that they obtain collectively. However it is important to note that none of the dancers perform any contact work when performing this phrase. Due to the lack of eye contact or physical contact, Dillon could be confirming that he believes it is indeed possible to feel alone even when in a large, strong, group of people.

Dillon’s intelligent use of spatial formations, numerical variation and dynamics to contrast the strength and weakness of dancers, convinces the audience that we are most definitely strongest in groups. However it is also clear through Dillon’s lack of contact work and his idea of power struggle that it is also possible to feel isolated and weak even when we’re not alone.

PC: Danilo Moroni

Don't forget, tickets are now available! Dillon Dance are performing on 4 Feb 2017 at The Place.