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Yorke Dance Project: Twenty review at Theatre Royal Winchester – ‘a heartfelt mixed bill’

Yorke Dance Project's Twenty. Photo: Pari Naderi
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The work of choreographers Kenneth MacMillan and Robert Cohan is familiar territory for Yorke Dance Project, so it’s fitting that works by both feature in Twenty, a mixed bill celebrating this small but ambitious company’s 20th anniversary.

A mentor for a number of years Cohan, now nearly 94, has created his sixth work for YDP. Set to music by Nils Frahm, Communion is at once mournful and majestic. Arms are repeatedly raised heavenward or flung over the shoulders in a gesture reminiscent of self-flagellation. Yet even this violent action is performed with care and reverence. In its gentle, understated way, Communion possesses a sense of quiet contemplation that reaches far beyond the movement itself.

Fittingly, Between and Within by choreographer Sophia Stoller, began life during the Cohan Collective residency in LA. In its shifting partnerships this brief but captivating work offers an intimate and touching glimpse into the relationships of its four characters.

When YDP restaged Sea of Troubles, the company imbued one of MacMillan’s lesser-known works with a new sense of life. Playground, restaged for this programme, does not quite manage that. There’s an uncomfortable tension between the imagery of childishness and violence. It feels problematic in its portrayal of mental health issues.

This is, however, the only weak point in an otherwise strong mixed bill. Edgell’s own work, Imprint, looks to those who have had the greatest influence on her career: Cohan, Bella Lewitzky and Richard Alston. Each section of this work is an ode not only to each artist’s distinct form and style, but a journey through time and memory.

Often joyful, sometimes introspective, it is danced throughout with a sense of heartfelt understanding – a tone that aptly encapsulates this programme.

Choreographer Robert Cohan: ‘I like a lot of dance, but not when it’s trying to sell itself with tricks’

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Yorke Dance Project’s heartfelt celebration of the artists that have inspired the company’s work