RDC Youth Dancer Hope O’Brien reviews Humanhood / ZERO on Thursday 18 November, 8pm, plus Hope also tells about an intensive workshop our associate artists led for RDC youth on Sunday 20 November in DanceXchange studios.

Humanhood’s ZERO draws on Western physics and Eastern mysticism to create an incredible interplay between dancer, science and space. As well as the performance I went to the after show talk with the Humanhood dancers Rudi Cole and Júlia Robert, and collaborator Professor William Chaplin from the University of Birmingham, School of Physics and Astronomy. Listening to how they viewed the work and how astronomy had greatly influenced it helped me to understand the piece on a deeper level. Humanhood’s collaboration with the Professor helped them further understand astronomy; how stars all have their individual pulses, how most things in space are actually invisible, how dark matter holds up galaxies and the connection between space.

There were some specific moments in the piece that stood out for me.  At the start of the piece, the male dancer is in a shoulder stand with the female dancer, on her back in a foetal position, on top of his feet. A corridor of light shines on her making it seem as though she is supported by nothing but darkness, like a child floating in the womb or a galaxy held in place by invisible dark matter. Slowly, he lowers her closer to the floor, new corridors of light appear illuminating her, giving a beautiful ying-yang, dark-light, male-female juxtaposition.

On stage, there is a circle of white powder in which the dancers are enclosed. When they begin to move, the once perfect circle is spread outwards as their bodies whirl through it, dispersing the particles around the stage; a metaphor for the passing of time and the spread of energy throughout the universe as things expand, contract, push and pull each other.

At one point the two dancers are at opposite diagonals of the stage, in their own individual spotlights, doing the same pulsing and flowing movement sequence, which connects them across the expanse of the stage even if they’re not right next to each other, like stars in the sky.

The whole performance was absolutely incredible. It was so beautiful and dynamic.I will definitely be watching Humanhood’s work again in the future!

I watched Humanhood perform ZERO alongside other members of RDC Youth, a professional contemporary youth dance company supported by DanceXchange. This weekend, as part of our regular training session, our Artistic Director, Adam Rutherford had organised for Rudi Cole and Júlia Robert to come in and deliver a two-hour workshop for the company dancers. In the workshop we were taught how to move with our breath and whole body when dancing; a principle that the Humanhood dancers used in their performance. They also taught us a phrase which was very technical and physical. After working with that singular phrase I realised just how enduring and strong the dancers were to be able to perform like they did for that length of time on stage! The workshop with Humanhood was an amazing opportunity which really broadened my perspective on performing and different approaches to contemporary dance.

More about Hope…

My name is Hope O’Brien and I have recently moved to England from Australia, where I danced with the contemporary youth dance company Co:3. Australia, for nearly three years. I currently attend the Contemporary Teens class at DanceXchange, and have recently joined RDC Youth, a professional contemporary youth dance company supported by DanceXchange. Dance is something I can pour my whole self into, focus on and push for. I love the creative process that you go through while collaborating with others, to make a piece. And, I just have loads of fun doing it!