Billed as a study of ‘the layers of emotion and memory that infuse captured images’, Fast Portraits begins with a dancer onstage in half-light and a screen above showing a close-up of her face. The other four members of the ensemble join her and pose as if for a photograph. As the performance continues and the pace accelerates, the dancers become increasingly intertwined in an exploration of emotional intensity.
Choreographed by Liz Roche, Artistic Director of her eponymous Dublin-based contemporary dance company, the connection between captured images and emotion was strained. The addition of the video screen took focus away from the dancers onstage, whose group performance was brilliantly fluid, appearing almost underwater as they embodied different emotions. Whilst the dancers’ work was impressive, the video images were increasingly unnecessary, and arbitrary one-liners such as ‘I should’ve brushed my hair’ distracted from the movement, particularly as the words were difficult to hear.
There were some good aspects of the show’s direction. The costumes made the dancers look like they’d just left the office, indicating the modern human condition, which inspired the piece, whilst the sparse set allowed the dancers to completely fill the space. However, the supposed infusion of captured images and movement did not translate, and the videos just seemed a little pointless. They should have left the expression of the piece to the dancers.