Before synchronisation comes the shaping. Yet in “INIT: The Warm Up Project,” choreographer Lucia Kickham wants to take the audience further back. Right back to the pre-performance warm up, and possibly beyond. If you’re inclined to wonder why anyone would want to see a warm up, you’d best think again. For there’s a curious wisdom to “INIT: The Warm Up Project.” And if it doesn’t make for one of the most spectacular dance pieces you’re ever likely to see, it certainly makes for one of the more revealing.
Indeed, given the nature of the piece, spectacle and well polished sequences were never likely to be the order of the day. Even so, seeing dancers Nerea Gurrutxaga, Ailish Maher, and Alessandra Ruggeri next to three chairs, shaking, stretching, or finding stillness, while DJ R.Kitt loops a hypnotic, soon to become irritating musical phrase, doesn’t inspire confidence. The introduction of what sounds like New Age electronic bird song and rushing water might even have you wondering why you braved the rain for this. But things take a gradual, yet definite turn as dancers begin to move. Like Kitt’s sound design, movements seem scattered and deconstructed at first, dissonant and competing for attention. But Kickham’s choreography, like Kitt's sound design, is much smarter than that. For it soon emerges that this is not a case of competing chaos, but of shifting sites of emphasis. As dancers develop individual phrases and shapes, always looking to communicate and cohere, a fascinating series of conversations start taking place. Dancers talking with each other. With the music. With movement. With themselves.
Throughout, Kickham cleverly crafts the journey towards performance into a performance itself. Slowly, gradually, the fractured, disparate elements evolve into something with synergy and cohesion. A simple, yet superb series of trust falls and flights flows beautifully, leading into a short series of synchronised routines before arriving at the final, reflective image. Matt Burke’s robust light design often semi-shades dancers to foreground each personality as it is expressed though the body, as well as blurring the distinction between dance space and audience. Yet the blinding light segment could have been better handled. If Kitt’s sound design never entirely sheds its New Age, Chillout overtones, ultimately, like “INIT: The Warm Up Project,” it proves to be a far richer and much more complex affair.
If the sage is one who follows behind picking up the important pieces that are discarded, Kickham wisely affords us a glimpse behind the wizard's curtain and the pieces sometimes jettisoned there. A privileged glance into the shaping of a performance, “INIT: The Warm Up Project” reveals those often sublime, exploratory moments that don’t always make it into the final cut. Revealing each dancer as a unique shaper of meaning, who both arrives while disappearing in the collaborative conversation that begins with themselves. Making us privy to those divine stutterings that gradually become shapes, phrases, sequences, conversations. Dance.
“INIT: The Warm Up Project” by Lucia Kickham runs at The Lir Academy as part of Dublin Fringe Festival 2019 until Sept 16.
For more information, visit Dublin Fringe Festival 2019 or The Lir Academy.