23rd July 2018
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Low turnout but fine show by very able dancers

WHO would want to spend a dreary wet evening outside watching a fireworks show when there were plenty of pyrotechnics being performed on stage in the Garrison Theatre?

Sadly for Martial Dance there were not more Shetlanders, especially younger ones, taking advan­tage of this splendid performance of contem­porary dance, body popping and martial arts.

Well done, again, Shetland Arts for bringing something completely different and visually refresh­ing to the isles. “Inspiring” was what my young guest, one of my dance pupils, said about it on the way home.

Martial Dance is Martin Robinson and Cat Casbon, both of whom have had very good professional train­ing and stage experience judging from the programme notes, which was reflected in their performance.

Curtain Raiser started the show with a group of teenagers from the Bridges team. Katie Jamie­son, Sophie Anderston, Nicole Watt, Natasha Lindsay and Joseph Williamson performed a piece of work, resulting from workshops during a week of exploring different themes, an introduction to the Martha Graham technique and learning something about Martial Dance’s style.

The theme was empowerment which was very well portrayed in their group movement and styling of black (bad) and white (good) clothing. The violence and abuse of empowerment was portrayed well by the individual performers and the ending for some odd reason made me think of Guantanamo Bay.

I might point out here that it is very difficult to learn some of an extraordinarily difficult tech­nique and then feel confident and ready to perform in front of total strangers in a week. I felt that though physically challenging for them they performed with some aplomb, so well done all of you and keep on going.

The second piece resulting from the workshop was Duet performed by two young men, James Watt and Chris Wright. Their performance, choreo­graphed by Martial Dance, quite frankly left me lost for words.

Their work started off as a bench training circuit merging into a very strong male pas de deux with controlled lithe interaction between the two of them. There was a good use of the stage space and the creative shapes that they formed fitted in extremely well with the sound track.

They had good muscular body control and used their physical strengths to very good effect in lifting and moving over and around each other off the ground in fusion of shapes. We and they were completely absorbed in the work as one movement flowed effortlessly into another with no obvious slip-ups. It was a physically exciting piece and quite rightly was greeted by enthusiastic applause. The potential for two young men dancing in this style, in a Shetland environment, is something for them to consider for future development.

I found Cat Casbon a very pleasing performer working with clean strong lines and flowing movements and using her face to communicate her thoughts to us. Martin, I felt, could have displayed his emotions a little bit more and not looked so intense.

Matthew Lawrence