Body and Forgetting / The Wake

Body and Forgetting / The Wake

The title of Body and Forgetting neatly encapsulates much of choreographer Liz Roche’s output. As a craftswoman, her seductive choreography has always centred on the moving body: no flashy props or gimmicks, just dance. As a subject, the effect of time on memory appears throughout her dances. Her latest work is an almost perfect reflection of the tension between the intransigence of the visual image compared to the relative permanency of the embodied image. Put simply, our lives are evident in our bodies through body language and gait. Roche asks what happens when our bodies experience a loss of memory and we no longer have that physical connection to our past.

Alan Gilsenan’s blurred film of a dismal corridor constantly plays on one side of the stage. On-screen dancers appear and reappear, flitting between doors or sitting solemn and still, while the onstage dancers dialogue with the projected images, sometimes moving in direct unison, at other times offering a less direct reflection of the projected image. Some small props onstage offer reminders to a past, but the dancers sometimes shy away, like when Alexandre Iseli refuses to hold on to books, string and other objects that are thrust into his hand or placed on his moving body.

Denis Roche’s live music, with twanging electric guitars and looping electronics, provides a hard-edged impetus that prevents any straying into nostalgia. Together, the film, dance, music (and Sinéad Wallace’s subtle lighting) created a impressive multi-layered meditation on memory and identity.

Choreographer Sarah Dowling is new to Dublin audiences: unfortunately her duet The Wake was all too familiar. A husband is stretched out on a kitchen table as his wife grieves and relives a happier past. It wasn’t just that the overall subject felt dated and recalled Irish ballet productions of 30 years ago, but the staging and moment-to-moment action was predictable, albeit well performed.