Review of ‘Brother of Sleep’ by Amy Watson

MAY 29, 2013 by AMY WATSON

Roehampton Dance Festival – MFA/MA Choreographers’ collaboration with MMUS Composers from the Royal Academy of Music

The Roehampton Dance Festival was an initiative started in 2011, to create a showcase of all of the talents that thrive in the Dance Department. From talks and seminars, to practical classes and performances, the festival is a week-long celebration of the diversity of the research, interests and practices of the staff and students at Roehampton.

Here at Platform, we were fortunate enough to be invited to two of the week’s performances.

The first of these jam-packed evenings was spent taking in the collaboration between the Roehampton MFA and MA Choreographers and MMUS composers from the Royal Academy of Music. This was the fourth year that this collaboration has taken place, and as one of the nervous and intrepid choreographers who took part in the pilot year in 2010, it was exciting to be back in the Michaelis Theatre, to see the latest collaborations come to life on the stage.

The challenge of this type of collaboration is always the navigation between each participant’s area of expertise, to create a truly collaborative end product.

In Faye Hoyt and Freya Waley-Cohen’s Joan, girls filled the dimly lit stage, and their functional uniform of shorts, skirt crop top and t-shirt, gave the space an air of a girls’ changing room, just after a games lesson. The score meandered from lightly jazzy and built to a more sinister soundscape. As the girls covered the space, alternately siting and moving is geometric patterns in smaller groups, they would pause and swap shirts. As the rhythm built, in a Rite-esque manner, one of the dancers became increasingly distinct from the group. Was she the mysterious Joan of the title?

On the Left Side, by Ceyda Tanc and Evan Kassof explored the concept of the origins of the word ‘left’; that – as the ‘opposite’ of right – the word left derives from a much darker place, variously weak, malicious and sinister. The sinuous dancers stretched, lunged, and hit angular positions, alternately in their quartet, in two duets and individually. The piece was slick and the dancers were undeniably the most polished of the night, but I must admit that I was left wanting for any real sense of dark, brooding menace suggested by the programme note.

The dancers in Ad Lib seemed to relish the opportunity to play. The title and premise of the piece which suggested a structured set of rules, around which the performers could improvise, made me wonder whether the musicians followed the same ‘score’ as the dancers. The music and dance moved from the lightly playful, to more contemplative, and there were some really lovely moments when both elements of the performance seemed to collide.

Muted colours and repetitive movement motifs comprised Terrynan Davis’ and Guiseppe Desiato’s As they remember to forget. The movement material was simple, and unfolded in a series of patterns, with the dancers in larger groups and in duets. Whilst the piece had moments which piqued my interest, I was left wanting; wanting something more intense, more challenging, where the dancers really experienced idea of exhaustion punted in the description of the piece.

Shift, with choreography by Tamara Cozier and music composed by Yu-Hsin ‘Angel’ Lin, explored the space between waking and a dream state; whilst the marriage of music and movement felt sonorous, the piece lacked the real depth and clarity required to bring home a real sense of the world of the piece.

Suse Tietjien’s choreography and Gareth Moorcraft’s music came together to create, for me, the most fully-realised piece of the evening. In Brother of Sleep, the dancers, girls clad in black shorts and flesh-toned cropped tops and boys in black cropped trousers, began in keenly held positions on the floor, which made them look like they were in a mid-air free-fall. As they rose up from the floor, they began to meld into one another, until, finally, just two dancers were left, as they had begun, on the floor. The piece had a gentle, haunting quality, and left a lingering image as we left the theatre.


I am aperformance-maker based in London. A recent graduate of the Master of Fine Arts Choreography programme, I exist in a world caught between traditional dance and theatre. Current choreographic interests lie in performances of identity and auto/biography; nostalgia and belonging; quotidian movement in the creation of narrative and the malleability of what dance is and can be.


About Suse Tietjen

Dancer, Performer, Choreographer
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