This is the 26th LEAP festival. Coordinated by MDI the festival brings together artists from across the UK providing a platform for them to share their passion, talent and sheer joy of performing with dance as the catalyst.
Although not featured as heavily as one might like dance is certainly the propellant in Black Holes: An Afrofuturist history of the future. Here dance artists Seke Chimutengwende and Alexandrina Hemsley merge movement and poetry to retell the history of the universe.
The work combines elements of science fiction and personal narrative as it swings between the creation and disintegration of the cosmos, and the histories of marginalisation and anti-blackness carried in the bodies of the performers (Chimutengwende and Rudazni Moleya).
The text heavy piece quotes George Clinton, Sun Ra, David Bowie, Octavia Butler, Samuel Delany and Brian Cox over a pervasive soundscape, courtesy of Xana, which loops and repeats suggesting the progression and destruction of time. This is a dance science fiction that feels in the early stages of its evolution. In its efforts to do so much it loses some of its punch and potency, and the heavy use of quite statically delivered text makes you yearn for more dance.
The epic story is fractured by localised human interruptions creating juxtapositions that confuse rather than clarify, and the endless pushing of boxes round the space brings the story of Sisyphus to mind.
The final section highlights the potential of the work as Chitumtengwende and Moleya duet, their bodies and voices repeatedly weaving together as the piece, like the universe, disintegrates. The intentions to propel the personal and the mythic onto a cosmic scale are evident but there is work to be done to realise the obvious potential within the piece.
Reviewer: Clare Chandler
Reviewed: 5th October 2019
North West End UK Rating: ★★★