A triptych of duets forms this evening’s entertainment, led by male duo Phil Sanger and Mandeep Raikhy in The Ghost Ship. The two Shobana Jeyasingh company members are both technically exquisite; the sensitive and human performance is not however limited to mere virtuosity. With snaking torsos, extreme extensions and frenzied itching gestures, the duo present the whole gamut of emotions experienced in an obsessive relationship. A lonely Sanger crouches before a projected image of an absent Raikhy; the two angrily push each other through agitated contact sequences; and at one point Sanger’s body appears to be physically indistinguishable from Raikhy’s as one sits atop the other. Towards the end the duet loses a little impetus, but there is very fine work here from both performers.
Continuing the Shobana Jeyasingh connection was company dancer Yamuna Devi, performing with Sarita Piotrowski in Nila Dyu. As the floorbound dancers open wing-like arms, an extended sequence of birds flying shows on the screen behind them; the animalistic movements increase in urgency as the two alternately support and struggle with one another. The atmosphere here is more obviously South Asian, fluid release and contact work combined with natyam steps and a mesmerising live performance from Miguel Marin on bamboo flute. Attractive but sometimes rather bland, Nila Dyu would benefit from tighter pacing and a greater dynamic range.
HitchhikeDance Collective bring us the final duet of the night, opening with red-lit Lola Maury and Myrto Gkouzelou in their underwear, striking a series of provocative poses against a pair of wooden railings. The image does not remain titillating for long – those railings soon suggest imprisonment, prostitution and child abuse. In a tender duet, the girls dress one another, then strut upstage in a carefully-observed simulation of streetwalking. The railings enclose the girls as they rock back and forth, violence, desperation and co-dependency mingling in an increasingly disturbing work. While not easy to watch, Gentlemen’s Venues is accomplished, courageous and raw.