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Phoenix Dance Theatre mixed programme

A scene from Shift , part of the Phoenix Dance mixed programme. Photo: Tristram Kenton
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The theatre aspect of this tightly knit group ranges from the subtle ambiguities of Christopher Bruce’s Shadows to the raucous surrealism of Caroline Finn’s Bloom.

While Bruce’s short piece Shift evokes workers in a munitions factory in the 1940s through effective costume and a muscular flirtatiousness, Shadows is more enigmatic; four figures around a table might be revolutionaries, resistance fighters or refugees. Relationships are outlined briefly but effectively, actions – a table turned into a barricade – triggered by paranoia and fear. Both pieces conjure past eras with the minimum of fuss.

Sharon Watson’s TearFall is less enigmatic – a lightweight meditation on tears illustrated through rotating lines of dancers, bouncing dips and surging stretches. The duets and trios are looped and lyrical, but pearl white balloons and blue lightbulbs emphasise the theme with unnecessary force.

If Caroline Finn’s uproarious Bloom seems to have wandered in from a Cholmondeleys/Featherstonehaughs programme (how we miss them!), it provides the theatrical kick required to lift the show above ground level. With a nod to commedia dell’arte, its mutant clowning is both earthbound and ethereal, innocent and erotic. Accompanied by a fascinatingly bizarre selection of music, this is dance in a pan-dimensional decompression chamber.

Dates: February 24, then touring until May 28

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Verdict
Four wildly differing pieces show the Phoenix dancers at their elastic best
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