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THERE is a lovely irony in the "forest" on-stage - these trees are cardboard tubes and real trees were felled to make them. No trees for birds to perch on? Suddenly the tubes are like telegraph poles and the members of Prague-based Lenka Vagnerova & Company are balancing atop them, focused and watchful, before they launch into a series of strikingly choreographed episodes that compare the way birds and humans share the same spaces.
It falls to the men to deal with parenting for both species, a source of comedy where visual punchlines pack tough home truths about nature and nurture. Watching Marketa Frosslova "hatching" is a hoot, but there is serious beauty in how Vagnerova's concerns about man and the environment take flight in dance moves that are - like her dancers - full of agile imagination and finesse.
Run ends on Sunday, Aug 10
IN the name of Our Lady of Sorrows - the Maria Addolorata of the title - here's a pair who don't have their troubles to seek. Alone, or together, they suffer. And where others might light candles and pray, Carlo Massari and Chiara Taviani seek solace in beer. Their inner pain manifests in a choreography of extremes: sometimes it's volatile, brutal and physically aggressive, sometimes it's contorted with an aching wretchedness - but always, with these two, it's deep felt. When she slaps, it hits home.
When he's drunkenly angry, you feel sorry for her - but you wouldn't want to be her. And yet, they are us. Even when, hilariously, they echo the fiction of movies like Natural Born Killers, the play-acting is how we all fantasise to escape.
By the end, the stage is littered with open cans, but as she cradles his body, the visual image is of Michelangelo's Pieta. Has despair morphed into faith? Look out for the savagely funny twist that nails this piece as a must-see show.
Feet Don't Fail Me Now
STRANGE name, Rhythmic Circus, for a quartet of hoofers and a live band. But actually, this is all about juggling beats to the bar, throwing out riffs and catching them - with the feet, if you're one of the super-nifty tap dancers, but on a variety of instruments if you're one of the seven musicians powering out everything from jazz-funk to smooth blues by way of Broadway melodies. As for what comes out of Heatbox's mouth? That's vocal trapeze work, high-flying and switching vibes mid-loop ... wow! It's one of those shows that's popping hot and yet classy-cool at the same time, with a feel-good factor that goes beyond Warp Nine.
SUBTITLED A Love Story, this is an interesting show that trips up with an overly ambitious mix of media, not just dance (which is strongly performed) but spoken narrative, projected text, film footage, recorded voiceovers.
The overlapping layers almost drain your ability to follow the central story of a wartime romance between a German dancer and an American soldier. She survives the bombing of Dresden, they marry and settle in the US where he writes on philosophy. There's also the underlying agenda that's briefly flagged at the start: can dance express the themes within these lives?
Over-egged as it is, The Warriors asks important questions: can we love our enemies or even understand the losses we inflict on them? Can art - dance, in particular - do more than words? See it and find your own answer.