Cutting edge or work in progress

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The Chinaski Sessions - Grand Theatre, Blackpool

There’s every chance that with its latest production the normally internationally acclaimed David Hughes Dance is trying too hard – or perhaps not trying hard enough.

There’s a distinct feeling that this fusion of often innovative contemporary dance, extremely physical theatre, stark rock music and – with much less success, verbal humour – is somewhere between a work in progress and an exercise in digression.

Belgian rock duo I Love Sarah provide the music (which ranges from Euro electrorock to Seattle grunge), Charles Bukowski’s cult literary character Henry Chinaski provides the title and everything from Men Behaving Badly (a stage littered with empty beer bottles and used pizza boxes) to Spinal Tap (a smoking drum kit) seems to provide the inspiration.

The “sessions” in question revolve around five dancers and two musicians trapped in a rock band’s home studio where they desperately try to complete their latest album.

Sadly and surprisingly there’s all too often a thin line between anarchic choreography and pure self indulgence.

At its best the dance is cutting edge and, if you didn’t grow up in a world of genuine prog-rock, the soundtrack has its interest.

But the attempts at monologue and humour fall flat – even with localised references written in for the occasion.

The evening started with an interesting curtain raiser choreographed by David Hughes himself and featuring some of the 300 young dancers from Blackpool, Wyre and Preston who had been working with him and collabortor Alan Greig over the previous weekend.