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Moving Dust perform in the Resolution! season | Photo: Neil Shearer

Let new dance be your 'Resolution!'

Zombies, wolves and a spaceman launch a season of new choreography at The Place

By Meg Pruce

A semi-naked man strides on stage. His belly hangs out and perched on his head is a large transparent dome. Picking up the microphone, he begins to sing in a deep, hypnotic voice. This is ‘Hallo Spaceboy’, by Jacob Hobbs. It’s a bold choice to open The Place’s annual platform for new dance, given that there’s no actual dance in the piece. Yet these sorts of risks are what 'Resolution!' is all about. Each year, emerging choreographers are selected to showcase their work to the public and, with no brief to follow or any creative restrictions, have complete freedom over what they produce. Eddie Nixon, The Place’s artistic director, emphasises that individuality is what characterises the season and makes every night a unique experience. ‘The joy and the point of 'Resolution!' is that you don’t know what to expect’, he says. ‘It’s part of the fun.’

Over six weeks in January and February, The Place theatre plays host to three new works per night. 'Resolution!’s opening night certainly exemplified its diversity. Following ‘Hallo Spaceboy’s one-man physical and vocal performance comes ‘I Am Wolf’, a more conventional contemporary duet where projected wolf images and voiceovers ominously set the stage for an epic lupine battle between good and evil. Lastly, Cody’s Moving Group gives us six fresh-faced female dancers who leap, roll and writhe to dramatise a violent zombie takeover, having made the dubious decision to wear some skimpy outfits worryingly reminiscent of slasher porn. A mixed bag indeed.

The initiative allows young choreographers to experiment with a range of styles and provides hands-on insight into the dance industry. As Nixon points out, ‘young’ refers to the dancers’ relative inexperience rather than their age, and for many, 'Resolution!' will be their choreographic debut. The stakes are high for the budding choreographers who have never been subject to public scrutiny before. 'Resolution!' encourages people to engage with what they’ve seen through social media such as Twitter and Facebook, or you can go back to basics and scribble your instant reactions in marker pen on the wall outside the auditorium. Nixon acknowledges that there will be some choreographers who stand out and benefit from The Place’s support to help further their careers. The platform has an illustrious talent-spotting history, boasting the Royal Ballet’s resident choreographer Wayne McGregor among its alumni.

The associations which give 'Resolution!' its title – the start of a new year, a chance to do something different and make a change – apply both to the dancers themselves and those who come to watch. Not only do the choreographers push boundaries in their work, but audiences also face eye-opening new experiences. Nixon feels that the ‘chance to get new blood through the door’ is one of the most inspiring aspects of 'Resolution!' and helps to maintain its vitality year after year. ‘It’s exciting to expose people to the unknown.’

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