Morph Dance Company: Gamechanger
Gamechanger, Morph Dance Company, Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton, 22 November 2017 – Reviewed by Debbie Green
The Gamechanger triple bill opens with 'Three', choreographed by T.J. Lowe and Subhash Viman Gorania. The light from a swinging light bulb reveals Subhash’s back as he sits in the silence on a cube-shaped casket. He moves his torso with a liquid plasticity that is his unique movement signature, while his arms contort and jerk and then ripple with a fluidity that speaks of both his classical Indian dance and his hip-hop backgrounds.
His floor work is extraordinary, as he moves in and out of the light: his movement is compact; he scuttles, jumps and creeps, manipulating his supple and hyper-flexible body. He seems to be struggling, even fearful. His refuge lies in light and the casket to which he returns to reprise the beginning of the piece until the lights snap out….
The second piece, 'Metamorphic', choreographed by Veen Basavarajaiah and Subhash, shifts constantly and entertains, with Subhash’s and the lighting’s transformative skills and effects. Subhash stands in the dark, his fast, fluidly-moving arms snaking and undulating in and out of the shaft of diagonal light until he is caught in the light in an astonishingly beautiful Krishna pose. We see his meticulous sense of form and his classical dancer’s technical precision. This is evident not only in the kathak- and bharatanatyam-inspired sequences, but also in his changing characters, mimicking Indian street-life characters. It is as though we had been offered a remarkable glimpse of another world.
In 'Flyfrom', Subhash is dressed in a suit. He removes his clothing layer by layer – a metaphor for his divesting himself of conformity and embracing the primordial. The final slipping out of his trousers was all that the previous clothes dancing was not: edgy and erotic. He smears his upper body with red paint – is this blood? If so, why was he bloodied? He finally dresses in the garment that has been hanging on the back curtain, perhaps a warrior tunic, in which he moves sharply with martial art strength and a strangely light quality to rhythmic music until he sinks to the ground.
All three pieces in Gamechanger convey entrapment and being victim to external forces, but ideas, meaning and narrative often remain as triggers for him rather than for the audience. At the same time, Subhash’s dance skills are extraordinary and it is these that he is so distinctively attempting to deconstruct. His is a unique and fascinating voice within dance that is striving to adapt, invent and transform tradition.