“The moment of survival is a moment of power” is the paradoxical tagline to Dogs and it provides a neat encapsulation of the choreography’s revelation of individual human weakness as well as communal strength. A further subtext, reflected in the title, was the emergence of pack instinct when social norms are absent. This conceptual ambition was well-sustained, despite moments of dramatic unevenness.
Initial movements show fragmentation and asymmetry within the group of six dancers, mirrored in Stephen Dodd’s crepuscular lighting and Tom Lane’s deconstruction of music by Bach, Handel and Mozart, both excellent partners to the physicality.
Relationships were tentative, even furtive, with dialogue conducted through whispers into a microphone, as each dancer’s behaviour seemed a necessary factor in the calculations of others’ behaviour.
Movement developed a brooding momentum towards a cathartic finale, with unison stomps and almost sufi-like spinning as arms were flailed outwards. Martin didn’t let the seductive physicality gloss over unanswered questions about power and vulnerability, but instead left the last word to soprano Elizabeth Woods singing “Che sospiri la libertà” (I sigh for liberty).