Last Saturday, I went to the Excelsior Studios in Park Royal to see a performance of the Russell Maliphant Dance Company’s Vortex. No, not the Noël Coward play. It’s a dance piece. Inspired by the action paintings of Jackson Pollock, it is a meditation full of colour and movement on the idea of abstract expressionism and the image of a vortex of creativity. Just as Pollock prowled around his floor-level canvases, dripping paint in fluid arcs and sudden splashes, so Maliphant’s five dancers create an engrossing performance which suggests images of creativity and feeling. At first, two dancers face a bare canvas, a large plywood platform which is moved around the stage and tilted at various angles. In one breathtaking sequence the dancers perform on a steep slope that looks impossible, a metaphor perhaps for the physical challenges of all art. At other times, there is a swinging Pollockian bucket which curves around the stage, dodged by the dancers, or a long cloudy fall of white paint powder, which slowly turns the figures slightly ghostly. A massive diaphanous taut fabric is swirled around, catching patterns of colour whose beauty is lovely to look at. The whole effect is created not only by the simple dance moves, which occasionally are a bit scrappy, but also by designer Ryan Joseph Stafford’s thrilling lighting — with its shifting abstract patterns — and Katya Richardson’s excellent music. Dancers include the free-flowing Charlie Brittain and street-dance mover Paris Crossley. Maliphant’s choreography uses the stage space to its full potential, and these performances are special in that they take place in his own studio space, which has the open feel of a rehearsal for a select few enthusiasts rather than the rather staid context of a traditional theatre. Great show!

© Aleks Sierz

Vortex is at the Excelsior Studios, and touring.

This article was originally posted on on May 31, 2023, and has been reposted with permission. To read the original article, click here.

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This post was written by Aleks Sierz.

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