Spring Forward umea2014


In the light and freshness of Umea we were indeed sprung forwards, diagonally and sideways but never backwards. Having the privilege to see choreographies curated by some of the most respected dance heads and hearts in Europe is a masterclass in programming and almost exclusively a pleasure to behold.  No response is truly objective and so- as a person who delights in colour, I found myself torn between bewilderment and mild trauma at the endless rejection of wit and imagination in costuming. Why are dance makers looking no further than baggy beige, grey and black?

Or of course nothing at all, which is another raw and beautiful story entirely.

Unless naked, the exposure of the dancers body as it shapes and shifts seems to be a secondary element and unimaginative street wear the dreary choice du jour. Cooler but blander than thou seems to be the preference in the dance ateliers of Europe and I do believe I laughed out loud when I saw the glorious lineup of life affirming and playful decorations on Jan Maartens superheroic energy bunnies on the last night, in fact it felt like the previously shameful silliness of colour had been siphoned off during the weekend was now unleashed all in one fantastic splash like a paintball of sensual, visual reassurance.

Back to personal obsessions, my other most life affirming art form is music and the sound of silence in this programme was deafening. Paring down choreography to no design and no soundtrack other than breath or footwork does put the moves centre stage and that honesty and intimacy is laudable. If not audible. But it's worth considering whether the craft of making dance can be and deserves to be a wider church, demanding of a complete theatrical experience which includes attention to music and design. Why not?

Not everything was dealt by the Hand of Bland  and the intelligence and depth of the artists choreographic and intellectual process was a sheer pleasure to see. One of the most powerful after effects of Spring Forward is a renewed understanding and awareness of the power of authorship, the sheer guts of young dance makers with passion and courage. Already, after only a few short years, Spring Forward is an experience that is nothing short of a necessity and an education for curators as well as reminder of the conflicting, profound and visceral nature of what is is to be human and how that is represented in this art form we may or may not called dance, to sounds which may or may not be called music and in costumes which may or may not be worn.

The goalposts change with exhilarating momentum. Thank goodness, and thank Spring Forward and those bold Aerowaves curators for their collective eagle eye on the changing shapes of the ball of confusion that is new dance creation.

Morag Deyes   

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