A large and ambitious collaboration between dance-theatre company Junk Ensemble and Belfast musical production company Dumbworld saw 80 Cork choristers, young and old, take to the cavernous stage of the Opera House for a Dance Opera that set out to explore our deepest, darkest fears.
Dumbworld’s lush musical arrangement featured Cork School of Music’s children’s choir, Cór Geal from Whitechurch, three professional singers and a live band, and was a treat. The specially composed libretto included a stand-out performance from opera soprano Amy Ní Fhearraigh.
In terms of dance, the childlike elements of fear were dealt with most successfully, with all the obvious theatricality of fairytale to hang from, while more nebulous adult fears of co-dependency, rejection or loss of autonomy seemed to channel more of a sense of adult embattlement rather than fear, and descended at times into sequences too subtle to be challenging.
Although it was the stated aim of choreographers Jessica and Megan Kennedy to explore fear without creating it, a jump-scare or two actually wouldn’t have gone amiss.
A stunning piece of visual trickery at the denouement of the show, designed to highlight the childhood origins of our fears, was beautiful and moving, but would have been carried off to even greater effect had there been a preceding crescendo of terror.
A stylish performance as intricately wrought as the origami sculptures it utilised, Luke Murphy’s Carnivore, a collaboration with Cork sculptor Alex Pentek, went skin deep on Monday evening.
Alex Pentek’s fragile-looking folded paper sculptures proved more durable and malleable than they appear, variously being worn and inhabited by the dancers, folding cleverly to form barriers to contact or spaces to inhabit.
Refreshing elements to the sound design allowed dancers to work with rhythm and even skirted pop music at times, for one sequence, playing out the sensual vulnerability of the nightclub slow-dance to poignant effect.
Luke Murphy’s own astonishing grace and economy of movement stole the show in terms of performance; a dancer to watch endlessly. The choreography sometimes leaned heavily towards the four dancers’ disparate movements, risking atomising the piece and scattering the viewer’s attention for too long.