Viviana Durante’s all-female company is purpose-built for this triple-bill tribute to the “mother of modern dance”.
The revival of two short pieces and a newly commissioned longer one are all geared towards Duncan’s style of dancing that favoured natural movement and organic gesture over athletic technique.
Having injured herself in rehearsal, Durante was unable to perform the celebrated solo Five Brahms Waltzes in the Manner of Isadora Duncan choreographed by Frederick Ashton. Begona Cao was a more than acceptable substitute, skipping, floating and embracing the air with lyrical abandon. In a diaphanous orange dress she was both ethereal and earthbound, conjuring Duncan’s unfettered spirit with ease.
Duncan’s own work Dance of the Furies is a revelation. Women creep between pillars of a temple and gather around a flaming bowl like the witches from Macbeth. Liberated from the strictures of formal steps, the five dancers fling and hurl themselves around in full-body gestures, fists hammering at invisible doors and the air itself. The angry, ritualistic power of the female collective is astonishingly distilled into a piece lasting 10 minutes.
Finally, Unda by Joy Alpuerto Ritter is danced to the accompaniment of a live cello with electronic enhancements. Six large bowls are scattered around the stage, one of them filled with a dancer looking like an upturned tortoise. The dancers run and play and gather together in a sensuous study in mutual support. It is loose and tight simultaneously, as if Balanchine’s Serenade had been remodelled by Pina Bausch.
The sequence in which one woman attempts to keep her slowly collapsing sisters upright is the human equivalent of the spinning plates act.