Tom Dale Company review – a mesmerising union of sound and movement

<span>Photograph: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian</span>
Photograph: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

There are dancers who execute movement. And there are dancers who simply are the movement – Jemima Brown is one of those. She is an incredible mover, melting through space or glitching in sharp shards of motion. It all seems completely natural to her.

For several years Brown has worked with Tom Dale, a choreographer who makes dance that is steeped in technology, digital culture and electronic music. Surge, which opens this double bill, is a solo where Brown not only dances but sings live. She appears android-like, an AI-enhanced future human, in white skin-tight costume and close-cropped bleached hair. The feel is unearthly, Brown’s voice pouring over a dark electronic score by producer Ital Tek. She is part robot, part house diva. Surge’s universe is created by designer Barret Hodgson, with sheets of light slicing the stage, and complex digital projections, suggesting neural networks and electronic circuitry, patterns chasing Brown across the floor – sometimes she seems to control them, sometimes they control her.

Jemima Brown in Surge.
Incredible … Jemima Brown in Surge. Photograph: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

It’s pretty mesmerising, as lasers and repetitive beats often are, but Brown’s presence offers a lot more than that. Her body going into a malfunctioning meltdown tips the mood from wonder to unease at technology’s creeping domination. All sorts of references spring to mind: Blade Runner, 90s club culture, cyberpunk, and yet it captures a conversation that is completely now, in a tightly put-together piece that feels like a genuinely original four-way collaboration between performer, choreographer, music and design.

The second half of the show is a group piece, Sub:Version. Not as high concept as Surge, it is set to tracks from producer Wen’s album EPHEM:ERA, strong on subwoofers, drifting between club and spaced-out after party. Dale’s contemporary choreography absorbs elements from hip-hop, popping and the looseness and bounce of house dance, as if torsos are tossed in the air causing ribs and shoulders to separate then all fall and stack back together. Limbs fly like a 3D spirograph and blur in the light – that’s a bit of a Russell Maliphant moment, but Dale and his dancers aren’t copyists, they have a style that’s distinct.