Thursday, 3 October 2019

Coastal Currents 2019 - 'Dance Movies' at the Kino - Review

I like cinema. I like dance. I like music. So the three for the price of one ‘Dance Movies' at the Kino-Teatr as part of this year's Coastal Currents, was an absolute must. It not only motivated me to leave the house, but it also made me want to write a review.

The event was split into two halves. The first half contained three, very different short films in which performance was either the main, or integral, part of a wider visual and narrative composition.

The first film I Am Weather (Rebecca Marshall/Nichola Bruce/Clare Whistler) was a triptych projection filmed at the Library of Water in Stykkishulmur, Iceland. 

The triple screens alternated between close-ups of fast moving water or spray, and dancer Clare Whistler viewed through a lighthouse lens. It appeared as if it had been filmed in an empty room in a tall glass building with a distant view of an urban skyline. The remarkable effect was to capture the dancer in a way that distorted her body, elongated her limbs and finally made her physically disappear altogether as if melting into the floor. The water sequences, that seemed different each time, provided an intense soundscape. It was a wonderful combination of the free flowing and the confined in a meditative union of shades of grey and elemental hydro-sonics.

The second film Klipperty Klopp 2 (Andrew Kotting/Yumino Seki) was also a split-screen and shades of grey affair. Funnily enough the last thing I reviewed was Kotting’s ‘Lek and the Dogs’ so it was very interesting to see this much earlier and now reinvented work.

On the left screen was Kotting’s original 1984 film of a man energetically running round a field in Gloucestershire pretending to be a horse. On the right this had been re-created with dancer Yumino Seki, more of whom later. The two films mirrored each other although the original was filmed almost completely in the rural environment, whereas Yumino Seki’s re-enactment also brought in some urban grit. This included segments in which she was quite brilliantly placed in front of a wall with the legible graffiti reading 'Take your poo…'. Given the slapstick speed of the characters and the original narration about the funny/crazy man and his horse, there was definitely humour. However, the tension between the absurdly humorous and the reality of two people running in marked, repetitive and seemingly futile patterns while negotiating relationships with their accumulated detritus, was also quite uncomfortable at times. The whole thing ended close to home with Yumino Seki on Hastings beach, barely able to hang on to her wildly flapping metaphor in the fierce wind. I so wanted her to just let it go.

Film three was Experiments with a Danse Macabre (Nichola Bruce/Patricia Langa/Daniel Hay-Gordon). Another film that dealt with confinement, Patricia Langa danced out the tension of being within ever decreasing walls, amidst a world of projected images. From a painterly perspective this film was lovely to watch. The layering of images, colour, texture, dark and light and movement made the film an ever changing and beautiful visual spectacle. The subject of death, or the ability of the dancer protagonist to inflict it at great personal cost, was told in the manner of a fairy tale. I accepted the artistic license in the telling of the tale and the beautiful package it came in, right until the last clichéd line: “we are all equal in death”, at which I sighed, possibly audibly. I'm afraid we are as equal in death as we are in life and that is not very equal at all.

The second half was just brilliant. Exspira Machina/Kwaidan AI was a combination of live music, dance and film. Afrit Nebula provided the music, Yumino Seki the dance and Mark French the visuals. The description of the pieces as ‘a ghost in the machine trapped by a scanner, unable to escape her own memory’ doesn’t come even remotely close to communicating the astounding amount of stuff that was going on here.

Musically it was a multi-layered fusion of jazz, rock, world, sacred, experimental - in fact there are all sorts of genres you could try and define this trio with but really, really good is probably best. There was a lot to it, both instrumentally and vocally, and it was very tight.

The visuals in this part of the evening ranged from a kind of ambient, spectrum loop to a mesmerising film of industrial machinery. A Victorian pumping station (I think) working a continuous and massive, rhythmic sequence of power and painted ironwork. Hard to believe this was normal less than a century ago.

From the left Yumino Seki appeared slowly and silently and the combination of music, visuals and live dance completely took over. The interplay between the three was superb. At first it was hard to know what to focus on but after a while there was a kind of emotional and sensual absorption into the whole. It was a wonderful experience.

On a personal note, I spent most of the 80s living in Japan and it was magic to see a butoh trained dancer for the first time in about 30 years. In Hastings! 

The Artists
Film Makers  

Dancers & Choreography  
Daniel Hay Gordon -
Patricia Langa 


Venue and Host
Kino Teatr  -
Coastal Currents -

Images for 'I am Weather' and 'Klipperty Klopp' found in public domain. (Was unable to find an image for 'Experiments towards a Danse Macabre' (or a website link for Patricia Langa). 
Images of Afrit Nebula and Yumino Seki courtesy of Neil Partrick.


  1. This, like the second half on the night itself, is a tight and well-constructed piece that at the same time allows for emotion and valuable opinion. The author's brilliant dissection of what was going on in the first half also made me appreciate it, and particularly the split screen, Klipperty Klop 2, a whole lot more. Thank you.

    1. You're welcome and glad that it clarified something about that work for you!

  2. On behalf of everyone involved I must thank you for an appreciative and understanding review of what we came together to do. It was a night where past present and future really coalesced in the moment.
    Mark French.

    1. Thank you Mark. It is lovely to get such a warm response to something I write too. It was a pleasure to be there and to write about it. Best of luck with the future!