Review: Fusion La Mer: Turn of the Tides

An injection of humour and fun gave a new edge to this year’s Fusion, but the show lacked the flow and slickness of previous years


Venue: Central Hall
Creative Director: Sacha Bull
Choreographers: Melissa Hunt and Heidi Jempeji
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Despite the company’s combination of music, dance, and fashion, Fusion is not for everyone. This year’s La Mer was fundamentally a fun, upbeat show, the cast were spirited and a palpable sense of excitement hung in the air. Its shortcomings lay in lapses in technical execution, some poor choices of fashion, and a slight lack of narrative drive.

In general, whilst the choreography was competent, and reflected the eclectic scene choices, the execution was sometimes messy, as is often the case with large scale projects. York’s Vox Choir made a great addition to the ensemble; the fabulous ‘surround-sound’ experience at the start of ‘Atlantis Underworld’ made an unusual and welcome start to the scene, adequately representing the sensual and mythical qualities attributed to the sea. Other highlights included the dynamic ‘Oil Ensemble’ in all its entrancing stickiness. This scene was particularly effective due to superb lighting, which emphasised the silhouetted bodies and wild hair of the dancers, and conveyed the trauma of an oil spill.

‘Lovers at the Seaside’, featuring Tom Jones and Tara Cherry, injected a sweet and heartfelt narrative interlude into the proceedings. The two danced with conscious humour, and the audience were charmed by the characters’ palpable connection. However, the scene felt oddly disjointed from the rest of the performance: it would have sat better in a piece of musical theatre. Unfortunately, the disjointed feel continued throughout, as the narratives of scenes were often not linked strongly enough. This was not aided by some clunky transitions between scenes; music editing was evidently needed in order to prevent either an empty stage, or ominously frozen dancers and models waiting awkwardly for their cue.

The ‘Swimwear Beach Party’ provided an extremely light-hearted, yet technically patchy, scene. The compères were amusingly cringe-worthy, and the audience were invited to laugh with them, rather than at them. The whole ensemble didn’t take itself too seriously, and the ‘spring-break’ stereotypes that paraded round the stage were met with slightly uncomfortable enjoyment. The subsequent ‘Shark Lingerie’ was greeted by a very audible “awwwooh” from an audience member behind us as the girls sashayed onto the stage – and was an example of modelling that actually worked. The girls were sexy, and the shark theme was conveyed through the sharp lines and make-up. This was the only scene where the modelling element of Fusion was profoundly felt – the girls (thankfully) did not attempt to dance – a move which in those heels which only would have ended in Willow-esque contortions. Instead every male in the audience was treated to the university equivalent of a Victoria’s Secret show – as one observed: “I would have paid six pounds for that alone.”

Fusion’s fashion element was distinctly absent, and lacked anything truly stunning. There were a number of beautiful outfits, but they were the exception rather than the rule. The ballet dancers’ black lace ‘wings’ worked well in their performance, and the red dresses in ‘St. Elmo’s Fire’ packed a vivid punch on the stage. Also, the crab men’s outfit, complete with brilliant orange hats, were joyously fun, even if the overall choreography for that scene was conspicuously strange.

The eternal problem lies in weaving the many strings to Fusion’s bow together in a harmonious manner. The dancing was not slick enough, which was disappointing given Dance Soc’s usual spectacular form (their showcase is a treat), the quality was fluctuating, and La Mer’s flow was stilted. This said, the show’s saving grace was the welcome presence of humour, the sense that all on stage were enjoying themselves, and of course a high dosage of flesh. London Fashion Week it is not, but it is something to put a smile on your face, and make you sincerely wish that your own dance skills extended further than a crazed and ever so slightly dangerous flail.

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