Body Language is the latest offering from multi-award winning CoisCéim Dance Theatre; an experimental, multimedia piece using live-feed projection and improvised dance to interrogate a pre-selected individual’s body language and micro-gestures.
Taking the work at face value, CoisCéim is clearly an adept performance troupe. Four dancers - all putting their own slants on the ‘house style’ - create interesting and bold movement through improvisation in vivo, refraining and riffing off one another in visually interesting directions. The degree of trust between them is a delight to behold. Equally, Christopher Ash’s live camerawork shows evident technical proficiency, an acute eye for exciting photography, and an uncanny ability to be in exactly the right place at the right time.
What holds Body Language down is, unfortunately, its premise. Though interesting, it feels somewhat as if it doesn’t give the dancers anywhere to go, beyond creating new and more stylised iterations of the same isolated movements. With little in the way of an obvious conceptual trajectory, the piece lacks the opportunity to approach anything other than the end of the company’s slot in the space. Though seeing different dancers’ takes on the stimulus is interesting, each of their individual styles are nonetheless too similar to give the piece an aesthetic trajectory. I wanted to see it build on itself in ways that feel like progressions toward something different, but instead it seems to plateau into refrains of the same few movements. Given CoisCéim is such a capable company, it is a real shame that they are let down by what I’m sure initially seemed like a fail-safe concept.
Perhaps a lot of this lack of trajectory comes from the context it sits in. Body Language would likely make for a fantastic installation, or smaller segment in a broader piece of work. As it stands, however, it feels like a slightly under-baked - albeit conceptually interesting - piece of experimental dance-theatre.