Jenny Stevenson for
21 Feb 2013


How refreshing to see the work of an emerging choreographer, fresh out of dance school, make the leap across the yawning chasm of the landscape of “self” that has pre-occupied a whole generation of young choreographers before him.

Instead, the director/choreographer of An Unfortunate Willingness to Agree, Oliver Connew, has taken his own personal experience of the global dispersing of his family unit and has deftly woven it into the political milieu of the times – traversing the graphic images that have accompanied the Arab Spring uprisings, the moral stance taken by the Occupy movement, the subversive protest of Pussy Riot and the corrosive politics of extreme conservatism.

He and his two collaborators, dancers Zara Killeen-Chance and Gareth Okan use their highly-trained bodies not to present a bravura display of dance, but as a conduit for energy and its transmission between themselves – through a spare vocabulary of movement.  Connew sets out to call into question society’s passive acquiescence and the all-embracing world of technology that can let people stand back and not get involved in, what should by rights, deeply affect them.

Set against the background of a live Al Jazeera broadcast replete with talking heads and destruction in equal measure, the dancers begin as automatons – emerging from the audience and gravitating in stiff-gaited steps, towards technology – represented by the television – techno-energy informing their every movement.

The dance progresses through an orgy of newspaper-induced frenzy before Connew makes a live-Skype connection in a place of dimmed-down lighting and no movement.  Instead the audience unwittingly conspires in super-imposing the chirpy and disembodied voices emitting from the halting Skype conversation onto the flickering images of the people on the television screen – who are earnestly discussing the controversies of the day.

The two male dancers perform, connected by an umbilical cord of computer wire – that would appear to enable them to transmit energy “down the line” towards each other.  Gradually the work reaches a point of resolution, as Killeen-Chance and Okan embrace in a clinch and perform a slo-mo dance of connection until the television is finally turned off.

The music of Marika Pratley and the lighting design of Amber Molloy are effective elements in this brief sojourn into what Connew describes as “a young person’s perspective” and a “desire for something much more human and honest”.