By Jade Cayton
The live guitar riffs resonate through the theatre, repeating over and over again. On the other side of the stage, the dancers perform a painfully slow movement sequence to sit down at a table. An old fashioned fridge and rickety old bed also share the stage. This sets the scene of the infamous Chelsea Hotel – a New York icon, embedded in history due to the abundance of famous artists, writers and musicians who chose to live there.
The set, the costume, the video footage and the rock music all interweave to take us back in time, somewhere in the 1950’s, 60’s or 70’s, to an era of intense artistic creativity. This journey is instigated by a powerful solo, executed from the top of the vintage refrigerator incorporating popular dance moves from that era. The soloist, Rosalind Haf Brooks, is phenomenal throughout the entire piece. All the dancers tackle the physicality of the choreography well, but I urge you to try and take your eyes off Brooks.
Artistic Director Jim Ennis explained to the audience that Earthfall creates ‘feel’ and ‘atmosphere,’ rather than following linear narratives. This kaleidoscopic approach to devising is obvious in Chelsea Hotel, where the ghost train elevator takes us through love and delirium, anger and confusion. While the piece carries an incredible energy, I felt Earthfall were clinging on to their physical theatre roots rather than revealing innovative choreography. They have a recognised style that has worked for almost twenty five years, but I would love to see something drastically different from this pioneering dance theatre company.
They are experts, however in engaging their audiences. This time it was with a chocolate gift, including an image to scan in order to download the Earthfall app. This was a creative idea that intrigues the audience, and persuades them to download the app to watch videos of an extra scene from the performance. Overall it was a classic Earthfall production – raw, physical movement and emotion, within an integrated multi media performance. Some will say their contemporaries are beginning to outshine them; but Earthfall are still pleasing audiences nationwide and will always be a relevant name in dance theatre.
Earthfall’s Chelsea Hotel is on at The Lowry until Wed 20 November. For tickets call 0843 208 6000 or visit http://www.thelowry.com/dance