The Stage Review Without Trace

Without Trace

Jeremy Brien

The Stage, 4 November 1999

the forefront of modern dance

National Lottery Arts for Everyone money has added the dimension of live music to V-TOL Dance Company’s impressive portfolio of multi-media skills for artistic director Mark Murphy’s latest high-velocity offering.

It opens Swindon Dance’s ambitious six-week Taking Risks festival at the Wyvern Theatre prior to a national tour.

Graham Cunnington’s pounding score, which makes particularly effective use of the harmonica, lends powerful support to the fusion of bold choreography, film and spoken commentary that has taken V-TOL, standing for Vertical Take-Off and Landing, towards the forefront of modern dance.

Murphy and his team of six dancers and actors have bolted together a stunning 80 minutes of technical imagery to enthrall their audiences.

Even the narrative about twenty-something Beth (Christine Devaney), bidding to escape the emotional confines of her lover (James Hewison) and best friend (Anne Gilpin) and reinvent her personality with a stranger (Ben Joiner) has more substance than much modern dance work.

It is probably two or three scenes too long to create maximum impact, but its bleak and at times shattered emotions are encapsulated in some extremely physical choreography. Overall impressions are of an innovative company that is not afraid to stretch the imagination but is also clearly not out to bewilder.