Richard Trinder, Editor

Phoenix Dance, Male Machismo And Ancient Greece

Vanessa Vince-Pang, Carmen Vazquez Marfil and Natalie Alleston in Phoenix Dance Theatre’s Kirke by Sandrine Monin. Photo: Brian Slater
Vanessa Vince-Pang, Carmen Vazquez Marfil and Natalie Alleston in Phoenix Dance Theatre’s Kirke by Sandrine Monin. Photo: Brian Slater
Kirke, sometimes spelled Circe, was a Greek goddess of sorcery who was skilled in the magic of transmutation, illusion, and necromancy. Living on the mythical island of Aeaea with her nymph companions she was visited by Odysseus - and she transformed his men into beasts. Perhaps he should have waited for an invitation...

Carmen Vazquez Marfil in Phoenix Dance Theatre’s Kirke by Sandrine Monin. Photo: Brian Slater
Carmen Vazquez Marfil in Phoenix Dance Theatre’s Kirke by Sandrine Monin. Photo: Brian Slater
So runs is the narrative for Sandrine Monin's newly choreographed first-look performance. A powerful soundtrack composed by Roberto David Rusconi opens by setting an ethereal, monastic atmosphere and climbs to a cacophony to accompany the beastly acts of Odysseus and his men.

Kirke's name is derived from the Greek verb kirkoô meaning "to secure with rings" or "hoop around" - presumably a reference to the binding power of magic. A headdress and a woven chain linked to the centre of the stage is used to represent Kirke's weaknesses - binding the goddess to her island, with her range and movement constrained, but also her strength when the very instrument of confinement is used as a weapon to subdue her aggressors.

Sandrine Monin's piece is as beguiling as Kirke herself and a beautiful introduction to the full performance of the work sometime next year.

Spam

Spam is a vibrant, colourful and witty look at our busy, busy, BUSY modern lives.

Performed by the pre-vocational dancers of the Phoenix Youth Academy and accompanied with a bouncy soundtrack by Japanese composer Susumu Yokota, Spam is fast, vivacious and great fun. Choreographer (and company dancer) Michale Marquez has provided a delightful platform to showcase the talents of the Youth Academy - so wonderfully 'not serious'.

Carmen Vazquez Marfil, Carlos J. Martinez, Vanessa Vince-Pang, Aaron Chaplin, Natalie Alleston and Sam Vaherlehto in Phoenix Dance Theatre’s Troy Game by Robert North
Carmen Vazquez Marfil, Carlos J. Martinez, Vanessa Vince-Pang, Aaron Chaplin, Natalie Alleston and Sam Vaherlehto in Phoenix Dance Theatre’s Troy Game by Robert North
Troy Game

Back to ancient Greece and continuing the comical thread, Troy Game is delicious mickey-take of male machismo. Looking like it is based around the broad sweep of time known as the Trojan Wars (judging by the costumes), it nonetheless remains completely relevant today.

There's more than a little muscular tongue-in-cheek posing in this piece but mercifully it is more than just showing-off. It pokes fun at itself, at the male psyche and the conceit that athletes are somehow 'more important' than the rest of us.

Troy Game has been seamlessly adapted to incorporate female roles by Julian Moss for Phoenix Dance and this seems completely natural. Perhaps it's our modern sensibilities but the piece worked well with mixed roles where both women and men are eligible for mockery - and why on earth not.

Troy Game is athletic, requires great dancing skill and is a considerable feat of endurance, but I was still recovering from the beauty and mystery of Kirke. What a delightful start for a new choreographer.