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Brighton Fringe 2019


Hack Ballet/ Briar Adams

Genre: Ballet, Contemporary, Dance

Venue: The Warren - The Hat


Low Down

Elicitations is a triptych that aims to explore the precarious boundaries between belonging and escape and the emotional complexities in relationships, using an ambitious blend of classical ballet and contemporary dance techniques.


It is always heartening and inspiring to see artists creating their own platform for their own creations. Australian born Briar Adams is one such dancer.

As a fellow Australian, I know how much courage, ambition and true grit it takes to travel to the northern hemisphere and carve out a career in the arts, especially the highly competitive Classical and Contemporary dance world.

Briar Adams is the Artistic Director and choreographer of Hack Ballet, which was founded in 2011 and its mission is to “present a strong aesthetic vision of the world as it is and as it could be – celebrating diversity and equality, tradition and originality.” She brings us “Elicitations”, a triple bill showcasing: To The Edge, Argil and Grace featuring herself and company members, Hulya Levent, Ruaridh Bisset and Daniel Rodriguez who joined in 2018 and Jenn Vogtle, the newest member.

The first two pieces, To the Edge and Argil, created in 2013 & 2015 respectively, were originally devised for Norte Maar & Julia Gleich’s CounterPointe Platform for women choreographers making new works on pointe. They are ambitious in their attempt to push the envelope technically but could be more innovative and sophisticated choreographically.

To the Edge could perhaps make more impact by using a larger number of dancers to push the emotional story through the choreographic language. In adapting these works to fit the smaller venue, this piece lost elements of its intended impact in its scaled-down form. It would benefit from a more subtle lighting effect, the combination of bright lighting and the near naked aesthetic in the costume design left the dancers exposed and it slightly distracted from the emotional arc.

Argil features the three women and its theme symbolises the growth of a living organism from “clay” or soil through the use of the floor and pointe work. Briars movement vocabulary is abstract and although it is well executed, the thematic connection is a little vague.

The last piece, Grace, was conceived in 2017 and was the highlight of the evening. A good choice as the finale, it was much more cohesive and had pace and vigour. The focus and connection between the dancers was clearer, tangible and made it much more accessible for the viewer. Choreographically it benefited from not being on pointe as there was a definite lift in the energy, dynamic and fluidity of the dancers. Musical choices were varied and emotive and the use of pools of light worked very well to illustrate the different moods and characters.

Two of the younger company members, Ruaridh Bisset and Jenn Vogtle, deserve a special mention. They performed part 2 – Innocence, a beautiful duet. They both showed great technical control and particular grace, sensitivity and gravitas in their performances and are a joy to watch.

The Hat can be a challenging venue as the ever-present hum of the generator in the background takes a little while to adjust to and can be distracting at times so performers have to work even harder to keep the audiences attention. It is an intimate space too, so the dancers’ every bead of sweat is visible and there is no hiding behind the safety of the proscenium arch. Such is the nature of the fringe experience and, for the most part, the dancers rose to the challenge but there were times when we “could see the cogs working”.

There is an obvious progression in Briar’s work and her more recent pieces are more successful in putting across her intention with clarity. As she develops as an artist, her ability to manifest her creative vision will become more finely tuned and her own distinctive form and style will emerge. I look forward to seeing her future works.