Choreographer, Emanuel Gat originally created Works two years ago as a collaboration between his company, Emanuel Gat Dance and Le Ballet de Lyon. In this version performed at The Lowry, as part of Re:generations 2019 (an international forum exploring how technology drives innovation in African influenced dance) he develops further its core idea of celebrating dancers, using 10 dancers from Emanuel Gat Dance.
The title itself, simply ‘Works’ gives an indication of what to expect. The focus here is on the process of dance and the individuality of the dancers. Each of the dancers is dressed differently and isn’t clearly recognisable as a unique artist. Even when the movement involves mirroring, the dancers make slight changes to maintain their individuality. Similarly, the duets and group dances display a disconnect that keeps our focus on individuals rather than on the flow of movement as a whole.
Gat uses both lighting and statue-like stillness to focus our attention on particular dancers at any one time. Whether the dancers are performing in silence or to a range of music from Strauss’ ‘Im Abedndrot’ to Irving Berlin’s ‘They Say It’s Wonderful’, the movement is slowed to emphasise precision, control and a sense of separateness.
At times the level of controlled movement feels uncomfortably sinister – like a stalking cat waiting to pounce. The company describes Works as a ‘stream of choreographic consciousness’ and at times it feels like we are watching an hallucination.
The dancers are technically brilliant. As an insight into their strength and dedication Works is an interesting evening. However, as an audience member it is a challenge to watch because it is more about stripping dance down to its elements than expressing the joy and emotion to be gained from their accumulation.
Gat slowly builds up these layers until in the final 10 minutes we begin to see what together these individual artists can achieve. The effect leaves us appreciative of their talents in an abstract, observational way.★ ★ ★
Emanuel Gat – Works was at The Lowry, Salford Quays on 9 November 2019.