Review: ŻfinMalta Dance Ensemble

Last week I went to see the ŻfinMalta Dance Ensemble (Malta’s National Repertory Dance Company) at Deda, Derby. I’d not heard of the company before, the trailer for the work we went to see was shown to us in a lecture recently in my Contemporary Dance: Current Perspectives module.

The company’s UK debut tour has just come to an end, their last performance was on Friday at the Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells. The company is currently under the artistic direction of Mavin Khoo, who is a classically trained dancer and has worked with Wayne McGregor and Akram Khan to name a few. As well as being artist director, he also choreographs and dances with the company himself. He has his own company too – mavinkhooDance – which was founded in 2003.

We saw a Triple Bill of Selah, Stabat Mater and Kick the Bucket, all very contrasting pieces in many ways, demonstrating perfectly the versatility of the company and its dancers.

Selah | Choreographer: Jose Agudo  Composer: Vincenzo Lamagna

Stabat Mater | Choreographer: Mavin Khoo  Composer: Girolamo Abos

Kick the Bucket | Choreographer: Iván Pérez Avilés  Composer: Aaron Martin

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As I said before, each piece was very different to the last. The first two had more of a narrative concept however it wasn’t completely clear what that was and we weren’t told – there was an opportunity to just watch the movement unfold and take what you wanted from it. An idea that keeps coming up is why are we so fixated on having to know everything? It’s so rare to be able to just sit and watch a performance without questioning the meaning behind everything and really over-analysing every aspect. Does everyone do that or is it just a thing that comes along with studying dance on some level?

Anyway – I was captivated by the first ten minutes of performance – the choreography was very fluid and expansive, on a variety of levels and incorporating lots of spins, turns and directional changes as well as moments of stillness emphasised by silence.It was very engaging to watch from start to finish. I enjoyed how each piece had a different number of dancers – the first had five or six, the second had the whole company I believe and the last was a duet featuring Mavin Khoo himself.

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The duet was interesting as it was revealed in a post show discussion that the choreography was originally made for a man and a woman, and then Mavin learnt the female role to perform. I wonder how it would have communicated differently to the audience with different genders, and also why does this make a difference, why is it significant?Image result for żfinmalta dance ensemble

I don’t think I could pick a single favourite piece but I did really enjoy the duet to finish. It appeared as contact improvisation might, but was obviously set and very precise movements but the two men had a powerful connection as they rolled across the stage and one another, lifting and manoeuvring each other seamlessly, taking each other on a journey, it seemed.

Although the chance has gone to see them in the UK this time around, I highly recommend if you do get the opportunity to in the future then jump at it!

If you’d like to find out more about ŻMDE have a look at their website here.

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Much Love x


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