A Darker Shade of Fado with Nuno Silva at Lakeside Nottingham
A Darker Shade of Fado is billed as a dance piece in which contemporary dance and Fado are inter-twined. Fado is a traditional type of song, frequently melancholic and soulful and mainly from the Portuguese city of Lisbon. Nuno Silva's 'A Darker Shade of Fado' is certainly no tourist style entertainment but instead a hot bed of passion entwined with eroticism, wistfulness and downright danger. Even as I type I feel that should be hitting the keys harder in a slowly pulsating dramatic manner, pausing for a while for to underpin my words with silky eroticism exemplified by a loving caress of my laptop screen. Mopping my fevered brow, I continue...
The dance work uses three dancers and a superb live musician (Sabio Janiak). Principally we have the creator Nuno Silva as Spirit – a malevolent tour de force – a flickering mess of possessed muscular and taut limbs – occasionally inhuman and predominately Succubus or Incubus preying on and manipulating the forces of love and mistrust between the seemingly sweet and innocent 'Woman' (Stephanie Dufresne) and the gentle 'Maker' of string instruments (Matthew Lackford).
All is played out amongst a foreboding stage palate of darkness, light, shadow and billowing back lit smoke with occasional ambient candle light. The stage is often divided up into quadrants through the effect of a large window frame cast onto the playing area. The dance pieces regularly contain themselves within a particular quadrant and the physical entrance by a performer into a space is signalled by music cleverly combined with sound effects such as the trembling of an excited/nervous heart beat. As the second half brings itself to a dramatic close the terrifying figure of a rampant bull (Matthew Lackford) overtly challenges the dominance of the all controlling Spirit.
Nuno Silva dances brilliantly and stuns the audience with his ability to sing in the poetic Fado style whilst intensely enraptured in the fiercely emotional dance dialogue between his tortured spirit self and that of his victims. This is a supremely talented man at the very pinnacle of his artistic game and at times appears to be almost sucking raw energy from the air to continue in his mis-deeds.
Stephanie Dufresne is equally brilliantly deft in contemporary dance and conveys lightness of body phenomenally, as well displaying unexpected contradictions in emotional conditions between her character and the potential lover in Lackford's 'Maker'. There is the push and pull, tease and counter tease but also due to the 'Spirit's' twisted whims we get a contortion of all of the emotions vividly expressed in dramatic dance by the talented Dufresne.
Lackford's gentle but deep concentration of character as 'Maker' allows even the scraping of the interior of a section of an unmade guitar to be of a tranquillising dramatic focus and interest. His character shows itself as meticulous in work and is literally thrown off centre by a romantic curiosity as exemplified by the dancer's back slides and twists yet becoming more evidently recognisable moves toward forwarding a new and exciting love relationship with Dufresne's 'Woman'. Lackford's work grows rapidly in strength throughout the work and he finally comes into his own as the terrifying bull.
From all the dancers there is a tremendous energy and agility throughout and a deep focus on the intentions of Fado. This is a fantastic dance work created by Nuno Silva that will stay with the capacity audience well after the final echoes of the traditional Fado songs and con-temporised dance fade away from the physical stage.