Brighton Fringe 2022
This new work by Italian choreographer Sara Sguotti invites us to explore the relationship between performer, space and the imagination and features a live score by Spartaco Cortesi. The title of the piece references the ‘other place’ that the performer will take the audience to – between the past and the future, reminiscence and prediction. A solo dance piece with collaborative live sound and lighting.
The dancer lying on the floor as the audience trails in begs the question of where we go from here, but the soundscape with its English voices and strange interjections prepares you for an intangible experience.
This was the inaugural piece at The Dance Space, making full use of its bespoke dance environment, black box theatre but with room to move.
Sara Sguotti’s dance is a collaboration with sound (Spartaco Cortesi) , voice (Julie Bergez) and lighting (Mattia Bagnoli). Throughout the progression of the performance, with its different soundtracks and geometric shapes and colours from the stage lighting I wasn’t certain whether the dancer was following the sound or the light or any other combination of dependence. I began to feel that if I wanted to make sense of this piece I’d have to watch and listen intently to what went on in front of me and what went on inside my own head. I began to feel that I needed a better background in contemporary dance to follow properly.
But that is part of the experience and engagement with different and challenging material. It makes you doubt yourself then pushes you into another place where you have to take responsibility for your own feelings and reactions. In fact you don’t need an intellectual background in contemporary dance but you do need to bring the confidence to own your own responses.
This is a solo piece in terms of just one dancer, but it is an ensemble with the lighting and sound being created live along with the movement on the stage. It can go into different moods and spaces, but there is a kind of thread of exploration and rhythm that indicates a journey.
For me it brought up the difficulty of balance, learning to walk as a child, trying to move easily when injured, confined in a long black box of a mountain rescue trailer – this is stuff that I was being invited to project onto the dance, that was arising as I watched. The movements varied from the small and intricate to bent back double grotesquerie, as if using the body as a signalling device.
The soundtrack produced live by Spartaco Cortesi was evocative and felt very knitted into the dance before us, never intrusive but always giving a solid underpinning to the atmosphere of the performance. Likewise the lighting was simple and understated in some ways, but always a presence over and above simple illumination – a whole stage bathed in gentle light or deeper geometrical shapes that Sara Sguotti moved in and out of.
She wore a crop top, the left side decorated with lines of hanging beads, the other plain, and simple brown trousers – it felt like both a costume and an anti-costume. I would guess that she chooses a different costume to reflect how she is choosing to present on the day, but I might be wrong. In fact, photographs advertising the performance suggest that this is the final and chosen costume. The performance however invites this kind of speculation – taking you into the “other space” of the title..
So it was a daring piece, veering over into performance art (well what is dance but performance art I guess), but contained within the chosen disciplines of studied and skilled movement, music and the interplay of light and stage. An intensely personal piece in that it was designed to stimulate the imagination of the audience rather than take it over.