[img]http://hits.guardian.co.uk/b/ss/guardiangu-feeds/1/H.20.3/67999?ns=guardian&pageName=Motionhouse+%7C+Dance+review%3AArticle%3A1314344&ch=Stage&c3=Guardian&c4=Dance%2CStage%2CCulture+section&c6=Judith+Mackrell&c7=09-Dec-03&c8=1314344&c9=Article&c10=Review&c11=Stage&c13=&c25=&c30=content&h2=GU%2FStage%2FDance[/img]Queen Elizabeth Hall, London
Motionhouse like to leave their audiences physically disarranged – gobsmacked, stunned, overawed. With a cast of super-athletic dancers, as dextrous in the air with ropes as they are powerful on the floor, this is a company that has long cornered the high-impact end of the dance market.
In their latest work, Scattered, the OMG factor has been ratcheted up an extra notch. The design of the stage – a steeply shelving slope, like a skateboarder's half-pipe – allows the seven dancers to clamber, hang and slide with fearless elan; at the same time, artful film projections create the illusion of changing locations. The theme of the work is water, in its different manifestations, and as the film makes a geographical progression southwards, from arctic wastes to oceans and desert, the dancers appear to be slipping on ice, surfing on waves, bouncing down waterfalls, dying of thirst.
Some of the effects are very clever. One section creates the illusion that the dancers are frozen to giant ice cubes, slithering helplessly down to the floor as the ice melts; another has them attached to ropes and "swimming" underwater. But the ingenuity of the film is also a problem, since it highlights the lack of imagination in the choreography. We see what's missing in the few sections where the dance is animated by its own poetic logic: the rippling, surging solo where you feel the quality of water in the dancer's body or the desert section where the dancers angle themselves into reptilian shapes that are redolent of dryness and heat.
Otherwise, the choreography is content to deliver Motionhouse's usual bag of tricks. Audiences love them. But watching this company recycle the same crash-and-burn stunts, you wish they would dare to look inwards.
At Minerva theatre, Chichester, on 4 February (01243 781312), then touring.
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Guardian: Motionhouse | Dance review
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