The Times

Square Map of Q-4
Debra Craine

Queen Elizabeth Hall

February 13, 2008

Bonachela Dance Company

Watching dance is a multifaceted experience, and non-dance elements - design and music - can have a huge impact on how much you enjoy something. Or not.

It's hard to get beyond Marius de Vries's atrocious score for Rafael Bonachela's new piece, Square Map of Q4. It's a hateful noise soup so devoid of musical value that you wonder why they needed four musicians to perform it when Bonachela's latest production came to the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Surely a computer would do.

One of those musicians was the man himself. De Vries, a double Bafta winner and five-time Grammy nominee, has worked with an impressive line-up of artists, including Madonna, Rufus Wainwright and the film director Baz Luhrmann (on Moulin Rouge). But his musical credentials certainly deserted him for this commissioned score. His droning, grating, shrieking aural invasion force, a fusion of live music and digital technology, is a monster that seems to have been born kicking and screaming in some terrifying black hole. To add insult to injury, it was overamplified to excruciating proportions, forcing some at the QEH to plug their ears.

Happily, design and lighting are not so intrusive. Clever video effects (courtesy of Alan Macdonald) and shimmering lighting by Guy Hoare transform the landscape of Bonachela's dance, giving it the elusiveness of dreams and fashioning the six dancers as projections rather than flesh and blood. This fits Bonachela's master plan, which is to create a dance about memory and the way it shapes everything about us.

The movement, which has been carefully calibrated to fit each detail of music and lighting design, possesses an insinuating sexuality, a non-threatening aggression - these are memories after all - and an unsettling sense of being in the heart of an apocalypse. The second half brings some peace, or at least a search for peace, in the aftermath of violence. And then out of the blue comes an ineffable sadness, and all we are left with is a fleeting remembrance, our tenuous link to the experience of our lives.

The members of Bonachela Dance Company are all excellent, especially Amy Hollingsworth, and are reason enough to see Square Map of Q4. And here's some more good news. I'm assured that the music won't be so painfully loud at other venues on the tour, which continues until May 13.



- Debra Craine Feb 2007

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