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Published on Wednesday, 12 August 2009

There is something quite winsome about Dialogue, one of the offerings from Dance Base’s “Give Dance A Chance” programme. There is a gentle humour and the performers are appealing; although it's slight in some ways, and I would have preferred more substantial choreography, the concept is nevertheless engaging.

It begins, unsurprisingly, as a dialogue between the two dancers Fearghus Ó Conchúir and Li Ke - a dialogue first expressed through movement, then through sound (both words and music), then images. Underlying this is a dialogue between the cultures of both performers, Irish and Chinese, though this informs rather than defines it. There’s a delicate specificity and sense of balance in the delivery, perhaps due to the alternating nature of dialogue; the dancers perform then sit/reflect and watch the other.

Li Ke is a magnetic dancer to watch. Very birdlike in her movements with an expressive neck, she rotates her limbs and isolates her muscles with control; in a single sequence she seems at once the gull and the waves themselves. At other times she positively crackles with a fiery, focussed energy. While Ó Conchúir doesn’t match her, their duet is passionately slow and entwined. Billed as “a dance for a tall Irishman and a shorter Chinese woman” their energetic fighting shows how the tall tree has to bend to contain and manage the fireball of energy.

Composer Yin Yi’s composition and soundscape ably supports the piece; in addition, his commentary on energy and the elements is amusing, and heightens the awareness of energy itself. Plus, there is a nice dialogue between the projected image and shadow; Ó Conchúir's shadow darts across his own image as he dances, and the shadow of Ke’s raised upright legs are out of context against her face.

This gentle piece is a sweet conversation between friends, punctuated with reflection and strong emotions. While there are things that could improve Dialogue, it would be interesting, like friendship, to see how it develops over time.

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