Dance: Resolution! 2011, James Wilton, Laura McGill, Richard Bermange, The Place

What’s in a quote? Would a dance by any other name smell as sweet, or sound as clever? That seems to be the question posed presented by Tuesday’s triptych of new works, all three containing literary-philosophical allusions in their titles and programme notes. From Plato to the cult novelist Neal Stephenson, Tuesday’s Resolution! claimed a variety of highbrow heritages.

James Wilton’s star is very much in the ascendant at the moment – after winning the Blueprint Bursary for young choreographers in 2009, he beat off worldwide competition to win the Global Dance Contest last November. Clearly not one to rest on his laurels, Wilton has followed up his winning piece, The Shortest Day with new work Cave, based on Plato’s famous allegory of slaves living in a darkened cave gradually learning that perception is not the same as reality.

Cave begins with a floorbound solo, a female dancer rolling and flipping from side to side as she explores the surfaces directly in front of her. Gradually other figures enter, sliding across the stage on hands and knees, bound to the space around them. As the piece develops, ideas of perception are explored through weight and touch – dancers’ arms roll around one another at increasing speed, and bodies suspend inverted only to discover their own weight and come crashing decisively to the floor. The piece builds to a thrilling finale, dancers leaping over one another as they challenge their new-found gravity.

Although Wilton’s style is release-based, with frequent excursions to the floor, it’s reminiscent of Richard Alston’s work in fluid connection of one shape to another, the specificity of dynamic control and precision in the timing. Wilton’s previous works have had an accessible and infectious energy; Cave reveals a greater clarity and thoughtfulness from this promising young choreographer.

Laura McGill’s Palimpsest had a quieter, more contemplative mood. Set to a lively harpsichord suite and apparently inspired by a quote from Jeanette Winterson, the trio looks at the body as a palimpsest, “an instrument to be rewritten on”. Each of the three dancers writes and re-writes their own movement phrase: outlining the space, dropping from an elbow and crumbling inwards, pacing out an urgent rhythm on the floor. As the three dancers come into contact with one another in different relationships, the three phrases take on different readings. It’s a simple construction that works well here, resulting in a gently playful piece.

Richard Bermage’s neoclassical Virus examines ideas of viral transmission –the way ideas like jokes, urban legends and ideologies spread through populations. Movement passes between the seven dancers like an infection, self-replicating into unison and repetition, one couple picking up another pair’s sequence and multiplying it over the stage. The basic idea of replication, amplified by the use of hooded costumes to show who might be “infected” at any given point in the choreography, is readable enough, and the material is sweetly perky with lots of Balanchine-esque swivelling hips and light doublework.

Into this vision of a replicating idea creeps a narrative about love and jealousy. Couples swap partners, and an ecstatic phrase with high split lifts ends with the boy walking out on the girl, leaving her abandoned in a cold spotlight on the stage floor. Dancer Kumiko Nakamura looks appropriately wretched at this abandonment, but it’s unclear how this episode corresponds to the viral theme; rejection might be part of what a host does to an unwelcome virus, but the central idea of self-replication seems lost.

It’s unwise to set too much store by programme notes, of course – I know of artists that don’t write their own, and critics that (perhaps wisely) refuse to read them. But if there’s a note given in the programme, it’s always tempting to try to find an insight into the dance product nestling among those intriguing quotations. On Tuesday’s evidence, Wilton’s piece most fully realised his literary source material; which is not to imply a failure in the other two works, only a lighter and looser relationship with their inspirations. But would the dance smell as sweet or look as good without? I think it might.

Resolution! continues until Friday 18 February
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News: Keep safe online – Safer Internet Day

Tuesday is Safer Internet Day, an awareness-raising initiative to help people understand how to stay safe and avoid virus infections, spyware, phishing and other malware when using the internet. More and more of our business and social interactions are conducted online, making it easy for malicious users to target the unwary. We spoke to PC Pro’s Technical Editor and local person Dr Darien Graham-Smith for some expert advice on avoiding nasties when surfing online.

The first thing to remember, says Dr Graham-Smith, is that internet security isn’t just for Safer Internet Day – it’s a constant process and vital every day. “It’s important to understand that you can pick up an inection just by visiting a website – even a legitimate one – because criminals hack into respected servers to get their exploits to the widest possible audience,” he adds.

With malware exploits becoming a possibility for anyone with a basic understanding of computer networks and not just the professional hackers of popular understanding, it’s important to always suspiscious of anything that asks you for a password or installs a program you weren’t expecting. One good way to avoid the majority of malware attacks online is to install a good security software package.

“For Windows users, running a security package is a no-brainer,” says Dr Graham-Smith. “Some people avoid anti-virus software because they think it will slow down their PC, but today’s security software can be very lightweight.”

“Mac and Linux users will run into far fewer malicious programs; but you still need to be vigilant as there are plenty of fake banking websites and email scams that will try to trick you into giving up confidential information.”

Windows users seeking basic virus protection can chose from dozens of commercial packages and several completely free options including AVG Anti-Virus Free, Avira AntiVir Personal, avast!, and Microsoft’s own Security Essentials.

“When you consider only a dedicated security scanner can identify attempts to steal your banking details or use your computer to send spam or distribute viruses,” says Dr Graham-Smith, “it would be crazy to go without, especially since there are several very effective free packages available.”

A lot of malware makes use of bugs in a computer’s operating system, so it’s also important to run your built-in software updater (Windows Update or Software Update on the Mac) to keep your system fully patched.

If you manage to catch a virus or succumb to spyware on your computer, you can normally install a security suite on an infected system and it will clean up as its first action. In the case that malware has really got itself embedded in your system, several security developers (such as Avira) offer free bootable rescue CDs that you download from their websites. If you need further help with your machine, try one of Highgate’s local computer repair stores.

Remember that smartphones are internet devices too – it’s just as important not to enter passwords or install programs unless you’re confident of their provenance. It’s arguably even more important to be wary with mobile phones, because a hacked phone can easily run up bills by silently dialling premium numbers, enabling criminals to get rich at your expense.

If you’re following the right steps, says Dr Graham-Smith, there’s no need to be too alarmed. “Although all this sounds scary, if you’re using a modern computing system with fully patched software – and if you don’t stray into the dark corners of the internet where pirated software and porn are traded – it’s very unlikely you’ll encounter problems in your day to day browsing.”

“But because the potential cost is so high, in terms of inconvenience and potential financial consequences,” he adds, “it’s important not to be complacent.”

Find out what else is happening on Safer Internet Day at this page.

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