Edinburgh Fringe 2017
“On This Side of Time is a movement fable exploring the expressive abilities of bodies and the possibility of expressing the inexpressible through movement. It explores the relation between a human being and time, attempting to understand the phenomenon of time and to live this understanding through the body. This show is a philosophical, symbolic reflection on life, death, love and breaking away.”
In this show, contemporary dance, movement and physical theatre blend seamlessly to explore time, the time of relationships, love, the future, present and past. Choreographer Alyona Ageeva and her dancers from Russia present an intriguing fifty-minute show that is elegant and visceral, comprising several sections set to music, spoken word and song. An ensemble of six dancers including Ageeva, dance solos, duos, trios and ensemble sections to eclectic music. Some of the music has Middle Eastern tones such as flutes and drums, while other musical selections range from melodic to electronic. The music score is wonderful! All the music has strong rhythms, many are bold and textured and all are interesting. The music and the movement work together well, the one complementing the other.
Ageeva’s company is developing their own style of movement theatre and they are certainly on their way with this piece. At the beginning two dancers move around each other bending and flexing with a low centre of gravity. Ageeva is one of the dancers with a male partner. As they separate she does fascinating push-pull movements punctuated with changes of direction and small hand and wrist gestures. She is lithe and dances with superb movement quality and extensions. Her partner is athletic, expansive and direct in his movement. Their demeanor does not show facial expressions, they have neutral faces even though they move in close proximity. Three female dancers join them, with wide grimaces of pain or anger and move very slowly in a Butoh style. The dance continues with abstract motifs and strong arm gestures with tight fists.
In another part of this piece three dancers move rigidly on the balls of their feet then pause half sitting. The imagery is interesting when they stand in this position one in front of the other. Time appears to be in the present going towards the distant past when the male dancer marches very slowly and two female dancers do quirky and crisp enervated movement.
A traditional Russian song sung live by one of the female dancers is a wonderful moment, because the song itself is rather beautiful and the male dancer moves in sculptural positions in the constrained space of a spotlight. He does variations of strong movement bending towards the floor with arms outstretched high behind him, appearing to be wings. His transitions from one position to the next are wonderful, because his movement doesn’t stop completely… it slows down substantially and together with his gentle breathing it is remarkable…time never stops.
This company is finding its way by taking abstract themes, with interesting original choreography and pairing them with outstanding music and dramatic flourishes. On This Side of Time is an evocative and fascinating piece – with a brief appearance from the theatrical master of time!