In contrast to Dance Umbrella’s golden oldies, Ikuyo Kuroda is a newcomer and an interesting one - Japanese, ballet-trained but very original and modern-minded.
Now 28, she started her company Batik two years ago and quickly won an international competition with her group dance for six women, Side B. That and a solo version for herself of Shoku (also a group dance) make up her London programme. Both works feature aspects of hiding and revelation. For the opening of Side B, a red curtain hides the cast except for their lower extremities - later they let their long hair cover their faces or lift their red-lined black skirts or tops to conceal their heads but show their black undies.
Something not altogether dissimilar happens in Shoku - red dress, white undies - and both dances are punctuated by black-outs and pauses. Shoku uses hand-held torches too. For movement, Kuroda seems fond of percussive stamping and the floor patterns are mostly straight lines, backstage to front or vice versa. There is a lot of heavy thrashing around on the floor and a sequence where one dancer is pushed or poked by the others. She allows jokes - one woman for instance repeatedly loses her skirt - and introduces pained expressions or laughter. The sort of musical miscellany you might get by switching Radio 3 on and off (solos and orchestral, ancient and modern) provides a lively background. Each of the dances lasts a full half-hour and the intermission is inordinate but I found myself never bored.