One of the best things about dance is that it can transcend the boundaries of language or culture. The idea of rhythm isn't something that we need words to understand and it's exactly this concept that has acted as inspiration for the eight dance companies represented in this years Booking Dance Festival. Describing themselves as "a festival within a festival", this show brings together some of America’s most talented dance companies and their dancers to perform in a 90 minute showcase. Behind each piece is an examination of rhythm in its many forms and interpretations.
Overall this is a fantastic piece of dance theatre that is a great example of what America has to offer the dance world.
As is to be expected, some groups take a more literal approach to the idea. Solo dancer Antara Bhardwaj takes to the stage to give us a not only a physical but verbal demonstration of the rhythm structures of Kathak dance which originates from India. Bravely dancing alone she takes time to first explain the timings and various elements, before performing them in an energetic and swirling routine that gets cheers from the audience throughout.
Other acts like The Bang Group offer another point of view using stamps, claps, tap shoes and even Velcro to create their own percussive approach.
Contemporary dance is really well represented amongst the groups, some being quite traditional and others really pushing the more modern boundaries. It's risky to play it safe, with the USA having become a formidable force in the genre of contemporary dance recently, so I certainly felt that the more creatively adventurous groups stood out. In particular REED Dance's Now You Can Let Go had a huge amount of force and energy behind it, which was really impressive from two small female dancers. The expression and breath of the piece is spellbinding and they create a weightlessness that is utterly beautiful. Similarly the Barkin/Selissen Projects piece, choreographed by one of it's own dancers, Kyla Barkin, has an understanding of the ebb and flow of movement that is literally breathtaking. Smooth and almost under-water-like release with bursts of energetic momentum.
Overall this is a fantastic piece of dance theatre that is a great example of what America has to offer the dance world. It had a varied programme of multiple cultural backgrounds that was great to see. However the ones who are really pushing the case for bringing dance into a new generation of expression, particularly those mentioned above, stole the show for me.