The Prickle (@ThePrickle) November 22, 2019
Israel’s SOL Dance Company present their fifty-minute contemporary ensemble piece, as part of Hong Kong’s City Contemporary Dance Festival 2019. According to the company, TOML is about “our ability to look at ourselves in a cynical way, our obsession with external beauty, and our ability to laugh at ourselves”.
The recurrent image is that of an eerily luminated, transparent soap dispenser, labelled “SOL”. Opening with solemn string music, a white-jacketed dancer stands at the front of the stage, cradling a dispenser worshipingly, occasionally pressing out a glob of liquid which falls onto the floor. Later, we see another dancer satanically gabbling away, trying to sell us the dispenser. By the end, the whole company of seven have their own dispenser, and they’re all selling it.
The whole “isn’t the beauty industry evil” shtick is hardly new, and approaching it like a pantomime doesn’t exactly shed new light on the issue. Nonetheless, energised, charismatic performances by the whole ensemble make TOML genuinely funny: the audience was laughing out loud at many moments.
Furthermore, TOML is by no means just about the beauty industry; there are clearly wider themes at play that go beyond the straightforwardly explicable. The choreography (Eyal Dadon) is constantly surprising, weaving unpredictably in and out of styles: one moment surreal ballet, the next disturbing contemporary contortion. The overall effect is funny, yes, but also gripping from start to finish.
The City Contemporary Dance Festival 2019 runs across Hong Kong 16 – 24 November 2019.