SKADooSh Dance’s newest work TANGRAM invites viewers into an abstract world driven by shape, sound and sensation, as three dancers get to grips with a life-size tangram puzzle. The hour-long piece is architectural yet spirited, full of structure and delight. Backed by a playful score that moves between urgent beats and childlike melodies, the dancers constantly explore what the pieces of the puzzle can become. They move through a number of surreal motifs; the shapes become limbs, objects, and even living things as each colourful piece separates and comes together in ever-changing forms. A boat, a cat, a house, even a giant Pac-Man that munches the rest of the blocks – and a dancer or two – become possible through Laura Verbeek’s constantly discovering choreography. The images are ephemeral, appearing only for a moment before they are gone again, and yet it feels as though every possible option is being fully explored before us. There’s a real sense of the work that has gone into making this piece, and at the same time a window into the true extent of where imagination can take us, if we allow it.
There are striking moments within TANGRAM but they are always fragments; a conveyor belt of colourful ideas constantly passing by. And yet there is something innately alluring about this nonsensical work that never stops for breath. An hour at times feels dauntingly long, and yet the longer we watch, the more we become lost within the hypnotic world unfolding before our eyes. Dancers Hannah Cameron, Laura Heywood and Sarah Hitch are partly responsible for this, handling the oversized blocks with a sense of admirable ease and grace. All three are strong in their own ways; complimenting each other through mixes of theatrical characterisation and fluid movements, individuals that fit together as easily as the tangram itself. Towards the end the piece changes pace; as the dancers move through a series of fast, rhythmic gestures, their precision and awareness of each other truly demonstrates how well they work together. While the choreography may be driven by shape and play, this simple yet enthralling moment shows how it is the dancers that carry it, making a simple concept compelling and inanimate objects alive.